Robinson sisters help Gunn girls in runnerup finish | November 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 5, 2010

Robinson sisters help Gunn girls in runnerup finish

Gunn boys, Paly girls also qualify for CCS championships

by Keith Peters

The success the Gunn High girls' cross-country team is enjoying this season can be traced to a fun run last summer by the Robinson family. It was then that Gunn senior Erin Robinson convinced her sister, Sarah, to join her on the team.

It wasn't the easiest sell. Sarah just wanted to run enough to stay in shape for soccer, which is a winter sport. Sarah was going to run her freshman year at Gunn, but only in track.

Once big sister convinced little sister to turn out for cross country, Gunn's season was off and running.

The Robinson sisters have been shadowing each other most of the season, while leading Gunn to a No. 2 ranking in the Central Coast Section. Erin and Sarah ran first and second at the Monterey Bay Invitational and at the Palo Alto City Championships, tuneups for Tuesday's SCVAL El Camino Division Championships where Erin took second and Sarah third.

That effort helped the Titans finish second with 52 points, trailing only defending champ Mountain View's 31 points. Both teams, along with Palo Alto (78), qualified for the CCS Championships at Toro Park in Salinas on Nov. 13.

The Gunn girls are the defending Division I section champions, a title that came on the heels of a second-place league finish in 2009. Erin Robinson hopes that's the case once again.

"We didn't have a great league meet last year," said Erin, who disappointed with her effort Tuesday on an unseasonably warm day on the rolling 2.95-mile layout at Crystal Springs in Belmont. "I definitely would have liked to break 18 (minutes), but I still have CCS and state."

Erin Robinson clocked a season-best 18:22, finishing second to Mountain View's Allison Sturges (18:18) after Sturges pulled away with just about a half-mile remaining.

"I probably should have gapped her in the middle part of the race," said Robinson, who kicked herself for allowing Sturges (with a better finishing kick) to stay close.

Sarah Robinson raced home third in 19:08, but junior Kieran Gallagher struggled with the heat and fell back to 14th in 20:36 after taking sixth last season in 18:45. Gunn lost senior Emma Dohner to the heat midway through the race, thus normal No. 5 runner Melia Dunbar's 15th-place finish (20:44) was the No. 4 score and Rachel Bent's 18th place (21:11) was the No. 5.

The weather should be cooler in Salinas next week and Gunn will be ready to defend after putting five runners among the top 13 in 2009. Sarah Robinson will help fill the gap left by two graduating seniors.

"We definitely needed her," Erin Robinson said of recruiting her sister. "We obviously wanted to do well again at CCS. We didn't have quite as much depth going into this season, so she's definitely helped that."

Gunn won't have to worry about Mountain View at CCS, because the Spartans run in Division II. Carlmont will provide the competition for Gunn in Division I.

Also headed to CCS next week out of the El Camino Division finals are the Gunn boys and Palo Alto girls.

The Gunn boys had the same score (56) as last year and placed three among the top 15, just like last season. All three Titans, however, were new among the leaders. Junior Andrew Prior finished fifth in 16:15, senior Rory Runser was sixth in 16:21 and junior Peter Chen took 10th in 16:51. Rounding out the Gunn scoring was junior Daniel Krigel in 16th (17:16) and junior Michael Underwood in 19th (17:30).

Gunn finished ahead of defending champion Mountain View (third with 69), which dropped one of its top scorers into the frosh-soph race. Los Altos won its first division title (42 points) in the five-year career of head coach PattiSue Plumer, the former Stanford All-American and U.S. Olympian. The Eagles had six runners among the top 13 finishers.

The Palo Alto girls were a strong third with nearly the same score (78) as last season (77). Senior Susan Heinselman led the way in 10th (20:07) with sophomore Chika Kasahara right on her heels in 11th in 20:12. Senior Gracie Cain raced home 16th (21:00) while senior Leigh Dairaghi (19th in 21:12) and junior Lydia Guo (22nd in 21:36) rounded out the Paly scoring.

The Paly boys finished fifth and did not qualify as a team for CCS, but junior Nikolai Solgaard (14th in 17:06) and junior Corso Rosati (24th in 17:51) earned individual berths for the CCS finals.

The West Bay Athletic League finals for boys and girls will get under way Friday, also at Crystal Springs, starting at 3 p.m. The Menlo boys will be out to defend their title while the Priory girls are hoping to improve upon their second-place finish in 2009.


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