Paly distance runners show there's strength in numbers


It’s been clear all season that a special group of boys distance runners are on hand at Palo Alto High.

Just how special was demonstrated Thursday at Milpitas where Paly swept the 1,600 and the 3,200 during the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s De Anza Division finals.

Margaret Redfield/Malcolm Slaney
There’s no shortage of support with this group as the daily competition in practice provides a continual push toward achievement and personal development.

So much for the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

“After all those 7 a.m. workouts what’s nice is to see them paying off in a race like this one,’’ said Kent Slaney, after he was followed by Sam Craig and Reed Foster in a 1-2-3 finish in the 1,600.

Later on, Slaney became a double winner with a first-place finish in the 3,200 in 9:35.62, a race in which he picked up the pace and opened a big lead starting in the third lap. Naveen Pai (9:43.66) and Henry Saul (9:46.53) came in second and third.

Slaney and Pai are seniors, Craig and Foster juniors and Saul a sophomore. The distance group helped the Vikings to 100 points and a second-place finish in the boys team standings behind Los Altos (107).

Slaney’s winning time in the 1,600 was 4:22.74. He has a personal-best of 4:16.62, run last year as a junior.

“This was a pretty tactical race,’’ Slaney said. “I just mainly wanted to sweep. The early season was rocky. I had an ankle injury. But now my endurance is a whole lot better than last year.’’

Slaney, who is headed to MIT for college, advanced to the state meet last year and is hoping that experience will be of benefit this year when he tries to repeat that trip and surpass last year’s performance.

“It was fun, a great experience,’’ Slaney said. “It’s a very different kind of thing from SCVALs and CCS with the entire heat going under 4:20.’’

Craig was timed in a PR 4:24.49 and Foster in 4:26.40.

“I’m hoping to get under 4:20,’’ Craig said. “Today was a good effort but a lot of it was on the last lap. If I had pushed more the first three laps I might’ve gone under 4:20 today.’’

Foster came back to take second in the 800 in 2:02.09. He’s looking to break the 2-minute barrier.

“I hope to do that some time this season, at SCVALs or CCS,’’ he said.

The SCVAL championship meet takes place May 12.

Gunn’s Andy Maltz won the shot put at 46-9. His best this season is 47-10. He is still looking to improve on his junior-year personal-best of 49-3 ¼.

“I think I’m going to have to break 50 to go to state,’’ said Maltz, who is headed to Claremont-McKenna to throw the shot and play football. “Competition breeds excellence. We should see a lot of top marks next week. But qualifying marks don’t really matter. You’ve got to do it at CCS.’’

Gunn’s Margaret Redfield won the high jump at 5-0. She also placed sixth in the triple jump at 31-8 ½. She will focus on the high jump at CCS.

“I think I have a small chance to go to state,’’ said Redfield, another MIT-bound senior. “But I’ll have to jump a little better. Right now I get scared before I jump.’’

Redfield’s best this season is 5-4.

Palo Alto’s Michel-Ange Siaba won the triple jump with a personal-best mark of 44-9 ½. He also placed second in the long jump (22-0) and fourth in the discus (130-2 ½).

“He’s got the capability to go 45 (in the triple jump),’’ Palo Alto coach Michael Davidson said. “It’s just a matter of getting his focus down. He’s a big, strong kid. His future might be in the decathlon.’’

Gunn sophomore Jared Freeman placed third in the discus at 134-8.

Palo Alto’s Titilola Bolarinwa took second in both the 200 (25.80) and the 400 (58.51), despite having tweaked a hamstring in practice.

“I told her she didn’t have to push it,’’ Palo Alto sprints coach Victor Hudson said. “She’s got a lot in her. I expect her to run 57-low in the 400 and 25-low or 24 in the 200.’’

Palo Alto freshman Ella Ball was third in the 400 in 59.03. The Paly 4x400 relay team, without Bolarinwa, took second in 4:06.81.

Gunn distance standout Joyce Shea placed second in the 3,200 (11:23.17) and third in the 1,600 (5:15.56).

Gunn’s Ria Sood took second in the girls 300 hurdles in 47.61. Paly’s Adee Newman was third (47.84). Gunn’s Andrew Ching was third in the boys 300 hurdles in 44.88 and teammate Tommy Boguess took third in the high jump at 6-2.

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