Sports

Paly, Gunn seniors have their track careers come full circle

 

It is perhaps appropriate that the track and field careers of Eli Givens, Maya Miklos and Gillian Meeks have come full circle. After all, the trio has made significant contributions to their respective teams while running on an oval.

All three started their careers by helping the Palo Alto boys and Gunn girls finish fourth in the team standings at the 2013 Central Coast Section Championships. And all three wrapped up their final section meets by helping their teams finish in the exact same positions.

As they say, what goes around, comes around.

During these past four years, the threesome has accounted for eight individual CCS titles, one relay crown and the first-ever section team crown for the Gunn girls in 2014. The trio has helped win SCVAL De Anza Division dual-meet and league-meet titles, revise their respective school record books and earned multiple trips to the annual CIF State Championships.

"It has been simply amazing to have two girls like Gillian and Maya on the team at the same time," said Gunn head coach PattiSue Plumer. "They have been friends since elementary school; and it is wonderful that they will continue their education and athletic journeys at Harvard. Obviously, they are outstanding athletes, but they are also terrific team leaders, leading with both their action and their words.

"Without even trying, they have made everyone else on the team better. They willingly stepped up and ran extra events in order to help their team earn points, even if it meant incredible fatigue or sacrificing their primary event."

It was not uncommon for Miklos to compete in four events during a regular-season dual meet or for Meeks to run the grueling distance triple of the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters to help the win.

"They are both very competitive, but are equally thrilled by and supportive of their teammates' success, whether they win, PR or just simply do better than expected," Plumer said. "They are also great friends in tough times, as well. And they are equally amazing off the track. Gunn has been very fortunate to have had these two young women; Harvard is equally fortunate."

The M&M girls helped Gunn go 6-0 in dual meets this season before helping the Titans capture the SCVAL De Anza Division Championships.

"Maya and Gillian are part of an incredible group of senior girls," said Plumer. "In four years, they lost two dual meets (both to Los Gatos), but they ended with a (league championship) win. The group is really irreplaceable."

The final act of this successful four-year span will be played out this weekend at the 98th annual State Track & Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis. Meeks and Miklos both skipped Gunn's grad night on Wednesday to stay rested.

Meeks earned a return trip by defending her title in the 1,600 with a CCS-leading 4:53.13 at the section finals last Friday at Gilroy High. Despite finishing fourth in the 3,200 in 10:45.16, Meeks received a pass to the finals in that race with third-place CCS finisher Emily Skahill of St. Francis dropped the event to concentrate on another.

Meeks has the No. 16 qualifying time in the 1,600, which has prelims on Friday. The No. 1 time is 4:41.39 by Amanda Gehrich of Tesoro. Meeks beat Gehrich to win the Division II title at the CIF State Cross Country Championships in the fall.

Meeks will run in the 3,200 finals on Saturday, where she is seeded No. 19. The top time is 10:08.65 by Stanford-bound Fiona O'Keeffe of Davis.

Miklos qualified in the 400 and 300 hurdles by taking second in each race, clocking a school record of 54.81 in the former (her first time under 55.00) and 45.23 in the latter. Miklos, however, dropped the hurdles to focus on the 400 this weekend, where she has the No. 9 qualifying time. The No. 1 time is 53.74 by Maliyah Medley of El Toro.

Meanwhile, Palo Alto's Givens is heading back to the state meet after another successful effort at the CCS finals.

"Eli has meant so much to the program and will be greatly missed," said Paly coach Kelsey Feely. "He is a natural leader and set such an amazing example for our student athletes. It has been such a honor getting to see him grow as an athlete, but even more so as a young man. His future coaches are lucky to be gaining him for their program."

Givens ran the second leg of the 400 relay that included Austin Cox, Thorin Haussecker and Dami Bolarinwa. The foursome clocked a season best of 42.19 to trail only Bellarmine's sizzling meet record of 41.37 that grabbed the CCS lead and moved the Bells to No. 2 all-time in section history and in a tie for No. 2 in the state this season.

Palo Alto's time was the fastest since the Vikings won the 2012 CCS title in 41.56 on their way to claiming the section team crown. Paly has the No. 16 qualifying time for the state prelims while the Bells are No. 2 behind Vista Murrieta's 41.29.

Givens returned in the CCS 100 and finished second in a wind-legal 10.76 as Jared Geredes of Los Gatos won in 10.71, snapping Givens' streak of two straight section titles and preventing Givens from being the first three-time section champ in the 100. His time, however, was faster than his two previous winning races. He has the No. 13 qualifying time with TJ Brock of Chaminade leading the way with a 10.61.

Givens still wasn't done. With two berths in the state meet secured, he lowered himself into the blocks for his specialty — the 200 meters. Givens didn't disappoint in his final CCS individual race as he won going away in a personal best of 21.64, fastest in the section this season. That time is No. 8 among qualifiers.

Givens qualified for the 2015 state meet in the 100, 200 and long jump. He has been a key member for the Vikings for four years, starting with a relay leg to help Paly win the 1,600 relay at the 2013 CCS finals.

Also advancing to the state meet were Menlo-Atherton seniors Annalisa Crowe and Kathryn Mohr, Palo Alto juniors Kent Slaney and Michel-Ange Siaba, Gunn junior Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich and Palo Alto senior Catherine Yu. Gunn senior Amy Watt also will compete, going in the first-ever Para-Ambulatory Division. Watt was born without a left hand and has competed internationally as a Paralympian.

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