Although track and field is often considered an individual sport – outside of the relays – Gunn High’s Sarah Robinson took one for the team at Friday’s Central Coast Section finals at San Jose City College.
The Los Altos Hills resident considered dropping the 800-meter race to focus on the 1,600 and 3,200 – until she learned that Gunn needed her to run to have a chance at winning the girls team title. That was enough to convince Robinson to take on a third distance race, which few runners dare to do at CCS; only the top three finishers in each event are guaranteed to make it to state.
“For the 800, we were a little bit wishy-washy about whether I was going to do it or not,” said the senior, who finished second in the 1,600 an hour earlier and would win the 3,200 an hour later. “But we knew that Gunn as a team was really close to winning CCS, so (my coach) said I just needed to get a couple points for the team.”
The four points Robinson earned for finishing fifth in the 800 loomed large; the Titans edged Los Gatos 73-70 for the girls championship.
“Sarah was beyond amazing,” said Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer, a Los Altos resident. “Not only did she run a fabulous race to (set a personal record) in extremely windy conditions in the 1,600, she agreed to run the 800 for team points even though she was completely spent after the 1,600. She executed the 3,200 flawlessly. All this in two hours.”
Robinson finished a close second to Anna Maxwell of San Lorenzo Valley in the 1,600, surging on the final straightaway to nearly catch her. Maxwell finished in 4 minutes, 43.82 seconds; Robinson ran a 4:44.07. Those times earned them the top two seeds in the state meet, scheduled Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High in Clovis.
Robinson wasn’t challenged in the 3,200 after the fifth lap. She moved from third to first, extending her lead in each of the final three laps to clock a 10:42.02.
“I guess I just focused on making each lap faster, so when I went on the seventh lap, I wanted to make the eighth lap faster than the seventh lap,” Robinson said.
Los Altos High’s Lauren Jacob placed second with a 10:46.33. The sophomore ran with the lead pack the entire race.
“I was really happy with my performance,” she said. “I felt confident going into the race, and I knew that if I was in a huge pack of runners near the end, I had the speed to hold them off. Once I crossed the finish line, I threw my arms up in the air because I could not believe I had actually made it to state.”
Teammate Kelly McConnell will join her. He took third in the 300 hurdles, edging Carlmont’s Franklin Rice by 0.05 seconds for the final state berth. A strong finish helped McConnell clock a personal-best 38.92 seconds.
“I ran three races in 39, and I was just hoping this would be the day I hit 38,” the senior said, “and it was my lucky day, I guess.”
Mountain View High’s Rachael Estell enjoyed her day as well – the freshman finished fourth in the 100 dash – and her weekend got even better when she learned that a spot in the state meet became available. Estell, who ran a personal-record 12.35 at CCS, will replace winner Reonna Collier of Piedmont Hills, who is skipping the 100 to focus on her other events.
Estell finished eighth in the long jump (17 feet, 3 inches) and ran the anchor leg of Mountain View’s 4x100 relay team, which came in fifth (48.91) Friday.
“It’s a good start to my high school track career,” Estell said. “I can only improve from here –that’s what I’m thinking.”
Fellow Spartan Kolisa Nhlapo, who led off the relay, placed sixth in the 100 hurdles (15.46). She qualified in the 300 hurdles as well but did not run due to injury. Coach Michael Streck-Woodard said Nhlapo was bothered by shin splints and rolled her ankle running the relay.
Mountain View’s other individual qualifier for CCS, Drew Russert, finished among the top five competitors in two events. The senior placed fourth in the long jump (22-5 1/2) and fifth in the triple jump (44-10).
Los Altos junior Brian Yeager took seventh in both the long jump (43-09 3/4) and high jump (43-9).
Another Eagle, sophomore Amanda Mell, was 10th in the girls long jump (16-8 1/4).
Los Altos’ girls and boys 4x400 relay teams finished fourth and fifth in their respective races. The girls relay – comprising Britt Devisser, Anneliese Gallagher, Maddie Klein and Katie Klein – ran a 3:57.85 that coach Dave Barth noted would have been good enough for second place at last year’s meet.
“The girls had the race of their lives and were thrilled, but it just shows how competitive CCS is as a section this year,” he said.
The boys relay of Will Scheetz, Kevin Anawalt, McConnell and Francis Hacket “ran their hearts out,” Barth said, clocking a 3:25.26.
The St. Francis girls relay (Angela Cutler, Jenna Adams, Catalina Torres and Natalie Dricker) followed Los Altos in the 4x400 by running a 3:58.60. The Lancers also received a fifth-place finish from senior Mackenzie Florant in the girls high jump (5-1). Freshman Julia Bounds came in 12th in the 1,600 (5:28.88).
For the boys, senior Gabriel McLarnan paced St. Francis with a fifth-place time of 1:57.64 in the 800. Sophomore Darius Thomas finished sixth in the high jump (6-3) and senior Lloyd Riley was seventh in the discus (147-02).
2014 CCS Track and Field Championships - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier