BY KEVIN ZHANG
In Palo Alto, the Bay Area or even the nation, Henry M. Gunn High School is known for high-achieving academic students and a plethora of admissions into prestigious colleges. With so many academic accolades, it manifests the notion that Gunn lacks a strong athletic program and leads to the creation of outlandish myths.
The first myth is that Gunn lacks athletic stars. Graduates from earlier in the decade have gone on to accomplish incredible feats. The 6-foot, 11-inch "beast," Arjan Ligtenberg, after winning a league championship his senior year and being named De Anza League MVP, went on to play water polo at the University of Southern California, where he became captain his senior season as the primary two-meter defender and won two national championships. Gunn graduate and soccer player Andrew Jacobson was named Central Coast Section (CCS) Player of the Year in 2003 and went on to star at Cal-Berkeley, earning Pac-10 Co-player of the Year honors in 2007. He has now gone on to play professionally.
Even looking at current students and more recent graduates, star athletes shine. Class of 2009 graduate Jasmine Evans has gone on to play basketball at Harvard University. In addition, current senior Sunny Margerum has decided to take her spectacular hurdling and long-jumping skills to Cal. Paul Summers has committed to Stanford for cross country next year. Gunn also has talent that has hit the international stage. Current sophomore Maria Recinto
just won the Philippines National Rhythmic Gymnastic championship and potentially will compete in the World Championships or 2012 Olympics.
The second big myth is that Gunn is constantly dominated by neighboring schools such as archrival Palo Alto High and other schools in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL). This is not only false, but leads to disrespect toward Gunn. The average person needs to realize that Gunn, in total CCS championships, is ranked fifth, right behind Los Gatos High and two slots higher than Palo Alto High. In fact, lady Titans are ranked third in total CCS championships while Los Gatos and Palo Alto High are ranked seventh and eighth respectively. People should also realize that CCS is one of the premier sections in California and even in the country, making success in CCS an enormous feat. One may argue that Gunn does well in none of the "main" sports, as in football or basketball. However, Gunn basketball has had great success in recent years, with a CCS playoff birth this season. In addition, Gunn basketball has fared well against league rivals in recent years as well, as witnessed with the 42-18 rout of Palo Alto High in 2009. Gunn football has also shown monumental improvement after the enhanced facilities, winning the league last season and earning a CCS playoff birth.
The facts mentioned should not detract from Palo Alto High or any other schools in SCVAL. Palo Alto High has an incredible athletic program with incredible alumni. Numerous stars and great coaches have made Palo Alto High one of the best athletic programs in the Bay Area. However, the public should realize that Gunn also has a high-caliber athletic program led by athletic director Chris Horpel, a former wrestling coach/all-American wrestler at Stanford, which favorably matches up with Palo Alto High and other neighboring schools. There is no doubt that neighboring rival schools, such as Palo Alto High, command and deserve respect. However, what needs to come to the attention of the public is that Gunn athletics should not be disrespected or looked upon as inferior to neighboring schools.
Kevin Zhang is a junior at Gunn High School.