Sports

M-A seniors win their fourth straight PAL championship

 

The one constant for the Menlo-Atherton girls in cross country over the past four years, and likely longer, has been success. The current group of seniors have never lost a Peninsula Athletic League championship.

Title No. 4 came on Saturday over the rolling 2.95-mile course at Crystal Springs as the Bears completed an undefeated season by placing three runners among the top 10 and all five scorers among the top 18 while scoring 42 points. Aragon was a distant second with 104.

The margin of victory was the largest for M-A over the past four years. The Bears won by 31 points in 2012, 28 points in '13 and just seven last year.

That marked improvement also has shown up in the races, especially for senior Annalisa Crowe. As a freshman, she finished sixth in 19:49. As a sophomore, she ran 20:04.8 for seventh. Last year, she clocked 19:58 for seventh.

On Saturday, Crowe ran a personal best of 18:19 to win by a whopping 27 seconds. At times, it appeared there were two separate races as Crowe distanced herself from the pack and ran solo to the finish line. Crowe still ranks No. 2 in school history at Crystal Springs, second to Laurie Andeen's 17:49 in 1986.

Her previous best at Crystal Springs was 18:25 while winning the third, and final, league-wide meet on Oct. 29 by more than 40 seconds. She also established a school mark of 19:05 over three miles at the Monterey Bay Invitational at Toro Park in Salinas this season.

M-A coach Eric Wilmurt said Crowe's career in cross country has been up and down, but "finally all coming together" this season.

Helping M-A win the team title was fellow seniors Cat DePuy and Madeleine Baier, who finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in 19:13 and 19:27. Freshman Anna Leake was 17th in 20:29 and sophomore Olivia Shane finished 18th 20:33.

M-A ran without senior Katie Beebe, sidelined earlier this season by a concussion from a horse-riding accident. Beebe ran fourth in last year's league finals and was a key member of the team before she was injured. She was on hand Saturday to watch her teammates successfully defend.

The victory moved the Bears into this Saturday's Central Coast Section Championships, also at Crystal Springs. M-A will compete in Division I and shoot for a top-three finish, which will earn the Bears a trip to the CIF State Meet on Nov. 28 in Fresno.

Also headed to CCS will be the M-A boys, who finished third at the PAL finals with 81 points. Half Moon Bay won with 26 points in a dominating performance that saw four runners among the top five.

M-A was led by senior Robert Lane, who clocked 16:54 for ninth. He was 22nd last season in 17:14. Andrew Salinas was 11th in 16:54 and Kevin Conrad 15th in 17:00. Rohan DePuy was 16th in 17:02 and Luke Scandlyn wrapped up the scoring with a 17:38 clocking for 30th.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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