Sports

Gunn girls, Paly boys run to SCVAL cross-country titles

 

After winning the three previous league meets, the Gunn girls and Palo Alto boys were pretty much shoe-ins to claim team titles at the SCVAL El Camino Division Cross Country Championships on Tuesday.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the Titans and Vikings did just that as both teams scored 36 points and won easily.

In the girls' race, Los Altos was second with 61 and Palo Alto third with 86. For the boys, Gunn ran a strong second with 60 points and Los Altos took third with 71.

Also as expected, Gunn senior Gillian Meeks won the girls' race as she clocked 17:27.2 over the rolling 2.95-mile layout at Crystal Springs in Belmont. She also had won three previous league races. Despite battling a cold, Meeks beat Lauren Jacob of Los Altos by more than 41 seconds.

Perhaps the only surprise of the day was Palo Alto junior Kent Slaney not winning the boys' title, as he had done in the previous three league meets.

Slaney, also battling a cold, finished second in 15:14.5 as senior Ben Zaeske of Los Altos ran off with individual honors while clocking 15:06.7.

Aside from that little bump, it was a great day for the Gunn and Paly teams as they qualified for the Central Coast Section Championships on Nov. 14, also at Crystal Springs.

"It was a really great day for our team, both boys and girls," said Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer. "Twenty girls and 33 boys had seasonal or career PR's . . . some of them massive. I was told that the girls' team time was the second-fastest in school history. And, our top three boys had a combined PR of almost four minutes. Crazy.

"The boys really wanted to get second place and went after it. The girls wanted to win but, with Gillian and another girl pretty sick, I told them to run conservatively the first mile and push the last mile, Gillian especially. So, she went out and ran 15 seconds slower the first mile and didn't push the home stretch and missed her PR by one second . . . can't really explain any of that."

With Meeks leading the way, the Titans finished 1-3-5-12-15. Illi Gardner was the fastest junior while taking third in 18:22.6 with sophomore Joyce Shea fifth in 19:27.5. Claire Hu (12th in 20:10.0) and Emma Chiao (15th in 20:27.5) rounded out the scoring.

For the Gunn boys, senior Reid Kovacs was fourth in 16:02.0 and junior Jonas Enders took fifth in 16:02.8. Simon Rufer (15th in 16:42.4), Josh Radin (16th in 16:49.6) and Ryan Araghi (20th in 17:01.1) rounded out the scoring.

"At least two of our top seven in every race were sick," said Plumer, "which speaks to their tenacity (and the lingering effects of homecoming) more than our depth."

Even with that said, the Gunn girls had five scorers among the top 15 and the boys had five among the top 20.

Palo Alto was just as good as the boys had five among the first 12 while the girls had five in the top 26.

Palo Alto also had the top four finishers in the boys' Varsity 2 race while Gunn had the top four in the girls' Varsity 2 race.

"I could not be more proud of my boys," said Paly coach Kelsey Feeley. "Across the board there was so much improvement over the season and it was so great to see them get rewarded for their hard work.

"It was also amazing to see how close the boys have become from the beginning of the season until now . . . everyone cheered for everyone and they enjoyed not only their personal success but the success of their teammates."

Following Slaney in the varsity race was Henry Saul, the day's fastest freshman while clocking 16:03.3 for sixth. Junior Naveen Pai was seventh in 16:09.7 and Reed Foster, the fastest sophomore, finished ninth in 16:18.6. Junior Ben Beaudry (12th in 16:36.4) rounded out the scoring.

"Now the focus is to get the boys healthy and mentally prepared for their race at CCS," said Feeley.

For the Paly girls, Julia Doubson was sixth in 19:32.8, Maya Rebitzer was 17th (20:32.0), Andrea Chandler took 18th (20:34.8), Katia Martha 19th (20:35.2) and Sarah Wang 26th (20:59.0).

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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