Palo Alto has gotten off to a good start toward sweeping the boys' and girls' titles at the SCVAL De Anza Division swimming and diving championships following the diving portion of the meet on Tuesday.
Palo Alto juniors Reed Merritt and Mimi Lin captured their third straight titles to give their respective teams early leads heading into Friday's swim finals at Saratoga High starting at 4 p.m.
Merritt made it a three-peat after posting a score of 502.15 at Saratoga High. Merritt trailed by seven points heading into his 11th, and final, dive but had a higher degree of difficulty and nailed his last effort to hold off Trevor Labuda of Los Altos, who took second with 484.40. Scott Hillen of Paly was third with 426.25.
Palo Alto scored 36 points and Gunn had 26. Those totals will be added into the swimming following the 50-yard free. The Vikings have won five straight league meet titles.
In the girls' competition, Lin made it three straight with a 479.50 score. The point total was just off the 481.45 score she won with last year. Gunn was led by Marisa Agarwal's fourth-place finish of 426.55. Paly, however, wound up with three divers among the top eight and will take 43 points into Friday's swim finals.
The Paly girls are looking for their first league meet title since 2012, the last time the Paly boys and girls swept the titles.
Palo Alto opened the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs in shocking fashion with a 1-0 victory over regular-season co-champ and host Los Gatos on Tuesday.
The Vikings (16-11), who had dropped 6-3 and 8-6 decisions to the Wildcats (25-3) during the round-robin season, got a combined five-hitter from junior Justin Hull and senior Isaac Kasevich. Hull struck out five in five innings before Kasevich relieved him.
"Pitching and defense," said Paly coach Pete Fukuhara, when asked on how his team pulled off the victory. "Justin Hull was incredible for five innings and Isaac Kasevich came in and shut it down."
Paly scored the winning run in the third when sophomore Ben Cleasby singled and went to third on Jack Andrews' double off the fence in left field. Cleasby then scored on a single by junior Owen Plambeck. Cleasby had two of Paly's six hits.
"Really was a terrific game," said Paly assistant Dave Goldman. "Hard fought and tense the entire game."
The teams will meet Thursday at Palo Alto (4 p.m.) with a third game, if needed, at Los Gatos on Friday. The winner of the series will advance to the playoff finals, likely against regular-season co-champ Wilcox. The Chargers grabbed a 1-0 lead in their series with Saratoga following a 6-3 win Tuesday.
The Central Coast Section finals will be more lonely for Sacred Heart Prep's Derek Ackerman than he probably anticipated after he was the sole member of the Gators' squad to advance to the finals out of Tuesday's CCS Regional I at Rancho Canada (West Course) in Carmel Valley.
Ackerman shot a 1-over-par 72 while tying for seventh and earned one of nine individual berths into the section finals, set for May 12 on the same course. SHP finished seventh in the team race with 389 strokes as only the top four squads advanced. SHP senior Bradley Keller shot an uncharacteristic 82 after leading the team through the league season. His score didn't even count.
It was a day for very low team scores as R.L. Stevenson won with 359. Last year in this regional, Bellarmine won with a team score of 373 while SHP was fourth at 393. ShP coach Mark Dowdy said his team's scores were the lowest in qualifying that he could remember, and yet not good enough to advance.
Gunn, meanwhile, was 10th out of 11 teams on Tuesday with a 411 score after finishing third in the SCVAL Tournament. Andy Zhou led the Titans with a 79. Stanford-bound Isaiah Salinda of Serra shot a 1-under 70 to help the Padres qualify for the section finals.
Menlo School posted an 11-8 victory over host Menlo-Atherton on Tuesday night to earn at least a share of the Peninsula Athletic League regular-season title. The Knights improved to 9-0 in league (12-5 overall) with a home game against second-place Sacred Heart Prep (8-1) on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Against the Bears, the Knights won the ground ball fight with a 38-25 edge. Nick Frangione poured in five goals and Peter Gish scored four goals for Menlo. Charlie Ferguson and George Pike each added a goal. Jack Marren pitched in with three assists for the Knights.
At Woodside, Sacred Heart Prep tuned up for its showdown for first place with a 12-10 victory over host Woodside. Jack Crockett scored six goals for the Gators (8-1, 14-4). Frank Bell added two goals and two assists against Woodside with solo goals coming from Fred Eder, Will Kremer, Tiley Tinsley and Trevor Peay. Kremer also had two assists as SHP won for the 11th time in 12 matches. Goalie Austin Appleton had eight saves for SHP.
Palo Alto wrapped up a perfect season in the SCVAL with a 16-2 victory over visiting Mountain View on Senior Night. The Vikings finished 12-0 in league and 16-1 overall, with only a wild 22-20 nonleague loss to St. Francis of Sacramento on March 14 marring an otherwise perfect season.
Palo Alto was up 10-0 at the end of the first half, thanks to its superb ball control. Seven saves by senior goalkeeper Megan Valencia prevented Mountain View from getting back in the game.
Allie Peery tallied five goals to lead the Vikings with Paige Bara adding four and Lauren Gargiulo finishing with two plus four assists.
Meanwhile, Gunn wrapped up second place in the SCVAL with a 19-0 romp over visiting Pioneer on Tuesday night. The Titans improved to 9-2 in league (12-4 overall) with only Thursday's home match against Mountain View remaining before next week's playoffs.
Caroline Chou and fellow senior Tachael Tsai led Gunn with four and three goals, respectively. The Titans raced to a 13-0 halftime lead to earn the No. 2 seed for the playoffs. Gunn will host a semifinal on May 13.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Sophia Donovan scored six goals and fellow sophomore Indira Varma added five as Menlo School wrapped up the Foothill Division regular-season title with a 22-8 romp over defending champ and host Sacred Heart Prep.
Junior Parvathi Narayan added four goals and one assist with junior Nikky Price finishing with two goals and two assists as the Knights moved to 7-0 in league (12-7) with only Friday's match at Menlo-Atherton (7 p.m.) remaining before the league playoffs.
Sacred Heart Prep fell to 4-3 in league (6-12 overall) as the Knights pulled away to a 10-3 halftime lead before adding 12 second-half goals. Senior Brigid White and sophomore Cameron Gordon each had four goals for the Gators, who won the regular-season and league playoff titles last season while winning 19 matches.
The title is back in Menlo's hands, however, after another dominating performance. Menlo won the first meeting between the rivals, 16-5. After White scored just 50 seconds into the second half, Menlo tallied four goals in just 54 seconds. Donovan scored off the draw, Allison Liddle scored her second, Donovan grabbed the ball off the draw and fed Narayan and Price dished to Varma for the fourth goal as Menlo led by 14-4 with 23:04 left to play.
In Burlingame, Castilleja dropped a 15-7 decision to host Burlingame in WBAL Foothill Division action. The Gators had prevailed over the Panthers last month in overtime and trailed by only 8-6 at halftime. Burlingame pulled away in the second half as several Gator shots narrowly missed the net.
Junior Ellie Chen led Castilleja with a hat trick, senior Paige Vermeer scored a pair of goals and senior Lou Biffar and junior Niki Flamen added a goal apiece.
The Gators close out the regular season on Senior Night, this Friday against Sacred Heart Prep in a match held at Palo Alto High at 5:30 p.m.
Track and field
The Palo Alto boys dominated the short sprints during qualifying on Tuesday for the SCVAL De Anza Division Championships set for Thursday at Lynbrook High in San Jose.
Paly junior Eli Givens was the top qualifier in both the 100 (10.96) and 200 (22.38) with teammates Austin Cox second in the 100 (11.08) and Dami Bolarinwa second in the 200 (22.66).
Bolarinwa led two Paly qualifiers in the 400 with a 52.17 time for third.
For the girls, Gunn had seven qualifiers in five events. Junior Maya Miklos was No. 1 in the 300 hurdles (46.96), No. 2 in the 100 hurdles, a wind-aided 15.17, and No. 2 in the 400. Teammate Robin Peter was third in the 100 hurdles (windy 15.37) and seventh in the 100 (12.72).
Gunn's Jessica Luo and Amy Watt also qualified in the 300 hurdles.
Palo Alto had Julia Asin win the 400 in 1:00.23 and take fifth in the 200 (26.65). Titi Bolarinwa was fourth in the 200 (26.59) and seventh in the 400. Paly's Marion Seiler was fifth in the 100 (12.68) with Catherine Yu finishing second in the 300 hurdles (47.39) and fourth in the 100 hurdles (16.19).
The league finals get under way Thursday at 4 p.m.