The Menlo-Atherton track and field teams made important strides forward at the 2016 Peninsula Athletic League Championships on Saturday at M-A, with each squad making up for disappointments of a year ago.
The M-A girls, who lost last year's title to Mills by a single point, avenged that defeat in a big way as the Bears scored 152 points with Mills second with 90. The M-A boys, who finished 58 points behind first-place Mills in 2015, nearly made up that difference -- finishing second just two points behind the Vikings.
All in all, it was a successful day for both M-A teams as they prepared for the upcoming Central Coast Section semifinals at Gilroy High on May 21. The meet originally was set for San Jose City College, but moved due to construction of a new gym.
The M-A girls had six league champs and qualified at least one athlete to the semifinals in 12 of the 16 events. For the boys, M-A had three champions and qualified at least one athlete to next Saturday's meet in 11 of the 16 events. The top five finishers automatically qualified to the semifinals.
Senior Kathryn Mohr won her third straight PAL title in the pole vault (11-6) and finished second in the 100 (12.59) to freshman teammate Maggie Hall, who took the 100 in 12.47, won the 200 (25.37), anchored the 400 relay team to victory in 49.84 (with Mohr, Charlotte Schroeder, and Tatum Maines) and ran on the first-place 1,600 relay team (4:02.95) that won by 14 seconds and included Schroeder, Olivia Shane and Annalisa Crowe.
Crowe also won her third straight PAL title in the 800 (2:18.62) and finished second in the 1,600 in 5:06.13. Fellow senior Madeleine Baier finished second in the 800, third in the 3200, and fourth in the 1600.
Maines had a busy day and became all-league in four events first in 400 relay, second in long jump, third in the100 hurdles, and fourth in the 300 hurdles.
For the M-A boys, Terrance Matthews-Murphy won the discus with a personal best of 154-2, Jordan Mims won the 400 in 50.71 and Marquise Reid took the long jump at 21-10 1/2, which was contested the previous weekend.
Bryce Rodgers finished second in the discus (145-11) discus to go with a third last week in the shot put. Mims added a third in the 200 and ran legs on both relays. The 400 relay was second with the team of Reid, Mims, Jack Gray and Matthews-Murphy running 44.50.
M-A actually had a chance to tie for the meet title, but Marquise Reid pulled up lame in the final 100 meters of his second leg of the 4x400 relay and limped to make the baton pass.
"He ran eight seconds slower than normal as a result," said M-A head coach Alan Perry. "We only needed to finish second overall to share a team title with Mills. We would have been very close if 100 percent, but who knows."
Mills won the final relay in 3:27.61 with Sequoia second in 3:33.86 and M-A third in 3:36.08. Had Reid not injured himself, the Bears had second locked up and a co-title to enjoy.
At the West Bay Athletic League Championships on Friday night at Palo Alto High, it was an evening of personal bests and triumphs for the Menlo boys and girls in a down-to-the-wire team finish that saw the girls win their second straight league meet title.
The Menlo girls, who won last year's meet by just two points, had a five-point margin this time -- edging King's Academy 98-93. For the boys, Sacred Heart Prep was second to King's Academy (132) with 92 points with Menlo fifth.
Sophomore Robert Miranda led Menlo and came away with another league record, running the 1600 in 4:25.68, topping the mark (4:29.16) set last year by Priory's Ross Corey. Not only that, but he also won the 3200 and anchored the 4x400, which took fourth.
The Menlo girls wrapped up their fourth title in five years, and got contributions from every one of the team members. In just her second time jumping, sophomore Makayla Conley surpassed her previous best by four inches, clearing 4-8 to win the final. Fellow sophomore Brianna Boyd and Mallory North each reached 4-6 to give Menlo the sweep. Boyd also took second in triple jump, leaping 34-0 and junior Dea Dressel was sixth with 30-7.
Menlo coach Jorge Chen, who had figured from the trials results, Menlo would have to make up ground. By sweeping the high jump, the Knights closed the gap significantly.
"As the day wore on, we just kept on picking the points off either by us picking up a point here and there, or them losing points here and there," said Chen, who with three events left, told the girls they were close, but didn't tell them how close.
For the final event, the Menlo 4x400 needed to place at least third. The team of Lauren Henske, Brianna Boyd, Alexandra Chan and Lauren Hamilton did just that, placing third with an eight-second PR of 4:23.33.
Earlier, the girls' 4x100 (Henske, Hamilton, Chan and Electa Narasin) sailed to first with a time of 50.44. Menlo swept the 100 hurdles freshman Chan won in 16:15, sophomore Narasin was second in 17.43 and Dressel third in 17.45. Narasin and Chan took the top two spots in the 300 hurdles as well, and Dressel placed sixth.
In the 400, freshman Hamilton was third in the 400 in 1:02.21
For the boys, Miranda sailed to a win in the 1600, and took the 3200 in 10:07.56. Senior Dennis Mandudzo boosted the Knights with a third-place finish in the 3200 in 10:14.25, beating his previous best by nearly eight seconds.
Henry Fortenbaugh, a junior, placed second in 110 high hurdles in 18.68. The 4x100 team of Brad Seipp, Alexander Henske, William Abbott and Charlie Tilney-Volk was third in 45.54. Abbott and Tilney-Volk were joined by Miranda and Clark Kovacs and the 4x400 placed fourth (3:42.47).
Addison Partida of Eastside Prep won the boys; 400 in 51.74, SHP's Matthew MacFarquhar took the 800 in 2:05.53, SHP's Alex Grau won the high hurdles and teammate Sasha Novitsky won the 300 intermediate hurdles in 44.75.
For the girls, Castilleja's Claire Traum won the 400 (59.27) and 800 (2:20.42).