- Published on Tuesday, 03 October 2006 20:37
- Written by Pete Borello - Town Crier Staff Writer
Patti Sue Plumer has a racer's mentality, and that's how she approaches her new job as Los Altos High cross-country coach.
A former distance champ who competed in two Olympics, Plumer knows what it takes to succeed in the sport. That's why she is constantly challenging her Eagles to push themselves - whether it be working harder in practice or running faster in meets.
"My emphasis is on training them to race," said Plumer, who has coached at alma mater Stanford University and Menlo College. "Your muscles will hurt - it's a process of getting fit. If you don't embrace the pain, you're not going to be very good."
It's the sort of advice that's probably easier to digest when it comes from someone who once held the U.S. women's record in the 5,000-meter run.
"Because of my background, I think they're more willing to accept that way of training. They're more willing to take risks and chances," the 44-year-old said. "I want them to overcome their fears, and it helps that I've been through it."
Thus far, the coach is pleased by the team's response.
"I'm very impressed with the quality of kids - and not just their athleticism," said Plumer, who moved to Los Altos with her husband and two daughters in 2003. "They work hard and take chances. Some say they're too sore, but they do it."
Plumer has a healthy roster of 75, though only 20 of them are girls. Her top runners are Alec Nickolls on the boys' side and Caitlin Russell among the girls. Both "are doing a great job," Plumer said. At last week's Central Park Invitational in Santa Clara, they each placed fifth in their division. Nickolls finished 10 seconds faster than he did at last year's meet; Russell improved by 35 seconds.
Team-wise, Los Altos' best finish came Sept. 21 at the Saratoga Scrimmage. The boys won their division and the girls placed third.
The season will get more difficult once league begins next week, as the Eagles have been elevated to the SCVAL De Anza Division this season. Plumer, however, is not one to back away from challenges.
"Patti Sue is always successful with what she sets her mind to," said Joy Upshaw Margerum, who coached with Plumer at Menlo. "She has many good coaching workouts to share and is filled with terrific stories from the past which motivate the kids. Los Altos High is so lucky to have her as the cross country coach. She will do a great job."
A job Plumer said has been made easier by parent volunteers.
"I'd be lost without them," she said. "They've allowed me to concentrate on coaching, and I'm having a great time. I love the team."
Lauren Copenhagen led the Lancers with eight kills; Lexi Aiassa and Kaitlin Baxter added seven each. Nicole Merslich recorded a team-best six blocks in Saturday's title match.
St. Francis didn't lose a match in the two-day tournament and improved to 25-1 overall.
Los Altos won both its matches last week, improving to 3-1 in the SCVAL De Anza Division and 9-7 overall. The Eagles swept rival Mountain View Sept. 26 and Homestead Thursday.
Christan Schaefer was Los Altos' kill leader in both matches, notching nine against visiting Mountain View and 17 versus host Homestead. Erin Saliba had five service aces Thursday.
The Eagles edged Live Oak 2-1 Sept. 25 and blanked Leigh 3-0 Sept. 27.
Los Altos followed this by winning the championship at its third annual tournament over the weekend. The Eagles topped St. Ignatius 1-0 in the final on a goal by Lindsay Mott.
Top singles player Maxine Lim won both her matches in straight sets. Mithys Srinivason played No. 2 singles against St. Lawrence and Liza Belagolovsky manned that spot versus Redwood Christian, with both posting straight-set victories.
Girls water polo
Lauren Wyckoff led Los Altos with six goals; Rachel Levin and Alex Kaufman added two each. Eagles goalie Cassandra Wyckoff made 11 saves and two steals.