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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 21, 2014

Gunn, Paly pin down league wrestling titles

Teams will send a combined 13 to the CCS Championships; M-A has a new swim coach while Paly adds a new softball coach

by Keith Peters

It wasn't a team championship year for the Gunn wrestling team, which failed to defend its SCVAL De Anza Division dual-match and SCVAL Championship meet titles.

The Titans, however, still enjoyed plenty of success at the individual level and have more opportunities in the coming weeks.

Gunn will send eight qualifiers to the Central Coast Section Championships on Feb. 28-March 1 at Independence High in San Jose. The Titans also will send senior Cadence Lee to the girls' CIF State Meet the same weekend in Visalia.

Lee earned a chance to defend her state title by winning the 106-pound division two weeks ago at the girls' CCS Championships. Gunn's eight qualifiers to CCS were a result of top-six finishes at last weekend's SCVAL finals at Monta Vista in Cupertino.

Wilcox dethroned Gunn at the league meet by scoring 225 1/2 points. Fremont was second with 189, followed by Monta Vista (177) and Gunn (175 1/2). Palo Alto finished sixth with 104 points.

Gunn had three individual champions with Lee winning her first league crown at 113 pounds, junior Ian Cramer taking the 132-pound title for his second league crown and senior Stephen Martin winning his first at 182.

Palo Alto also had three champions in freshman Seth Goyal (123), junior James Giaccia (129) and senior Josh Deckelman (155). They advance to the CCS meet along with teammates Eric Oshima (sixth at 148) and Kevin Schumacher (fifth at 173).

Lee, who finished third at 106 last year, went 3-0. After a bye, she pinned Sean Crisostomo of Milpitas in just 38 seconds. In the semifinals, Lee decisioned Davey George of Los Gatos, 11-3. In the finals, Lee pinned Elvin Labucay of Santa Clara in 1:34.

Cramer, third at 120 last season, also went 3-0. After a bye, he pinned CJ Pumphrey of Cupertino in 31 seconds. In the semifinals Cramer pinned Arjun Gill of Homestead in 1:41. In the title match, Cramer decisioned Max McCann of Monta Vista, 8-2.

Martin, meanwhile, also won his first title after finishing second last season. He needed only two matches to claim the 182-pound crown. Two byes put him in the semifinals, where he pinned Benito Serrano of Wilcox in 1:25. In the finals, Martin decisioned Tijani Karaborni of Monta Vista, 8-1.

For Palo Alto, Goyal opened with a pin of Tarif Rashid of Homesteaed in just 41 seconds. He then posted an 8-0 major decision over Rohan Galotra of Cupertino and won the 123-pound crown with a 10-8 win over Vinnie Santiago of Wilcox.

Giaccia opened at 129 with a pin of Isaiah Barnes of Santa Clara in 53 seconds. He then pinned Gunn's Tanner Kerrins in 2:23 and won the title with a 9-4 decision of David Tran of Fremont.

Paly's Deckelman also won his opener in 53 seconds with a pin of Nate Ludwig of Saratoga. He then decisioned Sean Lanoza of Los Altos, 11-5, before winning the title with a pin of Christian Bittner of Los Gatos in 1:29.

At 106 pounds, Gunn's Michael Abramovitch went 2-1 and finished second. His brother, David, was seventh at 120 with a 3-2 mark. At 126, Gunn's Kerrins went 3-2 and placed fourth. Teammate Tavor Baharav went 3-1 and placed third at 133. At 152, Gunn's Cedric Linares was 3-3 and placed sixth. Ben Bianchini (2-2) placed seventh at 170, Eric Calderon was 3-2 at 220 and Kirill Demyanenko was 1-1 and placed second at 285 pounds.


Palo Alto has a new coach with a major league background. Bill Laskey, who pitched for the San Francisco Giants in the 1980s, takes over a Paly program that went 0-12 in the SCVAL De Anza Division last season and 3-24 overall.

Laskey, previously coached at Aragon for five years. He didn't coach last season.

Palo Alto will compete in the lower SCVAL El Camino Division and once again will go head to head with rival Gunn, which was 8-4 in league last year (13-11 overall). Neither team qualified for the CCS playoffs.


Just one season after guiding the Menlo-Atherton girls' swim team to a fourth-place finish at the Central Coast Section Championships, head coach Lori (Heisick) Stenstrom is gone.

"Lori moved to Colorado last August," said new M-A head coach Jane Worden, who assisted Stenstrom last season. "I guess they always wanted to live there, so off they went! I think they're enjoying it."

Stenstrom is the new head swim coach at Valor Christian High in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The school is sending running back Christian McCaffrey to Stanford this fall. Interestingly enough, his father, Ed, was a senior wide receiver at Stanford when Lori's husband, Steve Stenstrom, was the starting quarterback.

Menlo-Atherton, meanwhile, not only lost its head coach, but their star swimmer, as well. Brooke Stenstrom, who broke school records in the 50- (23.23) and 100-yard (51.32) freestyles and swam two record-breaking relay teams in only her freshman year, also is gone. She was second in the 50 free and fourth in the 100 free at the CCS finals.

Brooke just competed at the Colorado 4A state meet. She upset the state recordholder to win the 50 Free in 23.66. The state record for 4A is 23.60. She later won the 100 free in 51.72.

Worden, who like Lori Stenstrom swam collegiately at Stanford, has former Stanford swimmer Bobby Bollier back to assist her along with newcomer Brett Koerten.

"Brett swam at the University of Wisconsin — was team captain, competed at Olympic Trials and also was an assistant high school coach after graduating from college," Worden said. "On top of that, his personality is perfect for the job. I am really lucky to have them both helping!"

Menlo-Atherton will open its 2014 season in a tri-meet at Palo Alto High on Feb. 28.

In other swim news, it was announced that the first CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships will make its debut in the spring of 2015. The Southern Section generated the proposal.

The first championships will be held May 22-23, 2015 at a site to be determined. The state office reportedly has received interest from potential host sites and also has sent out bid inquires. The host site is expected to be chosen this spring.

The CCS would have three swimmers in each event while the talent-rich Southern Section would have the most with five.

Track and field

Menlo School senior Maddy Price won the girls' 400 meters at the 2014 Simplot Games indoor track and field meet with the time of 54.69 on Saturday in Pocatello, Idaho. The time, which is a personal best, makes Price the current national high school leader in that event.

Price also came in second in the 200 with a time of 24.47, just 35 minutes before the 400 — something that is not unusual for Price to do as she often races with little rest between events.

"With barely any time between the 200 and the 400, I knew I had to relax and chill until it was my turn to try and take home the win in the 400," Price said. "I have been working on letting go, meaning that when I step out on the track, I trust all the training that (sprint coach Mark) Mueller has put me through, and stop thinking and just run.

"I felt like today was one of the first races for me where I felt perfectly relaxed and that probably had a big impact on the race. It was such a cool feeling running through the ribbon at the end and I have been visualizing breaking through the "Simplot Games" ribbon for a while now. It is such a relief and such an honor to have that visualization become a reality today!

Price tuned up for the 400 with her solid effort in the 200.

"I knew this race was going to be super-competitive because of the high caliber of all of the competitors here," she said. "For me, the indoor 200 is just such a fun race because it is so fast and the feeling of rolling through the banked curves of the wooden track was such a cool experience. I never really like to lose, but getting second was good motivation to win the 400."

Said Mueller: "I am very proud of Maddy. The win and the times were good, but I am most proud that Maddy stayed relaxed, composed, and executed her race plan on such a big stage. She has grown and matured a lot since last year."

Price was last year's Central Coast Section champ in the 400 and 200. She finished sixth in the 400 at the CIF State Meet. She has a scholarship to run for Duke University next fall.

Price's next major race will be the Canadian Jr. Indoor Nationals in St. Therese, Quebec on March 15-16.

"Maddy has committed and been working hard for this upcoming (outdoor) track season in order to reach her goals — CIF state champion in the 400 & the Canadian Jr. Nationals," said Jorge Chen, her coach at Menlo. "And a performance like today's just goes to show how tough and focused she is to reach those goals."


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