It should have been a day for celebration for the Gunn High girls, who put together a championship effort to win the SCVAL De Anza Division track and field finals on a cool and windy Thursday at Los Gatos High.
The Titans scored 117.50 points to hold off second-place Los Gatos (104) and claim the overall league crown after finishing the dual-meet season undefeated. But, near-tragedy marred the day.
"It was a tough day," said Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer. "A young man from Milpitas was hit with a shot put during the competition and severely injured. It was very sad and delayed the meet 30 minutes. Many of our athletes were very close to the ring, doing warmups, and were really shaken up. Our kids did really well, particularly under the circumstances. And, of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the young man."
The Gunn girls grabbed the spotlight on the somewhat gloomy day with seniors Maya Miklos and Gillian Meeks each winning two individual events and running a leg on winning relays.
Miklos got the day under way by anchoring the 400 relay to first place in 49.31. She returned to win the 400 in 57.50, won the 300 hurdles in 43.62 and ran a leg on the winning 1600-meter relay team that clocked 4:08.16 and put the finishing touches on the league title.
Meeks defended her titles in the 1600 and 3200 with winning times of 4:59.71 and 10:55.74. She won metric mile by nearly 10 seconds and the two-miler by 25 seconds while not having to approach her season bests. Meeks also ran a 62-second leg on the 1600 relay.
"We were very proud of all of our athletes," said Plumer. "Our girls' teams this year were simply amazing and unselfish. We have an extremely competitive league and to go undefeated in both divisions varsity and JV) and win leagues does not happen without hard word, commitment and sacrifice (As well as a lot of luck and athletic tape).
"We got a lot of help in our field events. Conditions were cool and windy (head wind), so especially tough for our sprinters, Maya's 43.62 300 hurdle race was really fast, but even more impressive under the conditions."
Gunn got a solid 2-3 finish in the 100 from seniors Robin Peter and Janae Pennywell, a key victory in the shot put and a second-place finish in the discus from senior Lindsay Maggioncalda, a second place in the high jump from junior Margaret Redfield and a runner-up finish in the long jump from senior Amy Watt to help key the victory.
Gunn not only won titles for the varsity and JV girls but won the overall title factoring in the finishes of the frosh-soph boys.
"I'm not sure we had any set goals prior to the beginning of the season, but when we got a lot of scorers back (Jenae, Robin, Lindsey) we knew we would have a strong team," said Plumer. "Our FSB was probably our biggest surprise . . . did not expect them to go undefeated and three of the six races were really close. And our JVG have not lost since before I started, so I can tell you that I didn't want to have them lose on my watch!
The Palo Alto girls finished seventh with 38 points with Laoula Amanoni taking second in the 400 (59.79), Catherine Yu finishing third in the 100 hurdles (15.62), Titi Bolarinwa finishing third in the 200 (26.64) and Emma Sternfield taking third in the high jump at 5 feet.
In the boys' meet, Palo Alto finished third with 96 points while trailing Los Altos (121) and Los Gatos (99). Gunn was sixth with 29 points.
The Vikings came through with their usual big points in the sprints as they started off by winning the 400 relay in 42.87. Eli Givens and Austin Cox, who ran the first two legs of the relay, came back in the 100 with Givens winning in 11.07 into a headwind and Cox taking fourth. Givens came back to win the 200 in 22.39, again into a stiff headwind.
Junior Kent Slaney, who woke up earlier in the week with a knee problem and had an MRI on Wednesday that discovered no meniscus tear, was supposed to run to just qualify for next week's SCVAL Qualifier. Instead, Slaney finished second in the 1,600 in 4:25.20 and won the 3,200 in 9:42.82. Both times were well off his season bests.
The Vikings scored plenty of points in the distances with Reed Foster (4:28.52) and Sam Craig (4:28.92) taking fourth and fifth in the 1,600 and Naveen Pai (9:49.25) and Henry Saul (9:56.10) finishing in the same spots in the 3,200.
Palo Alto also won the closing 1,600 relay in 3:27.90 and picked up extra points in the shot put from Ryan Jamison (fourth) and Sam Desre in the 800 (fourth).
Gunn got a pair of victories as Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich won the high jump at 6-2 and Andy Maltz took the shot put with a season best of 48-6 1/2.