With their top runner sidelined, the Los Altos High boys weren’t able to catch Palo Alto at last week’s Santa Clara Valley Athletic League cross-country championships. The Eagles finished second to the Vikings Oct. 30 at Crystal Springs in Belmont.
Duke University-bound senior Owen MacKenzie – who led Los Altos to victory over Paly at last year’s meet – has nearly recovered from a stress fracture in his leg and is expected to return Saturday for the Central Coast Section championships, also at Crystal Springs.
“He’s spent endless hours pool running to keep fit but has been given the green light to return to land this week,” said his mom and Eagles head coach Steph MacKenzie a day after the league championships. “He walked the downhills and ran the uphills yesterday and feels great. He will be back in the lineup for CCS.”
Owen’s return after a six-week absence will surely give Los Altos a boost. His second-place finish in last year’s CCS Division I race propelled the Eagles to a second-place standing and a berth in the state championships.
Coach MacKenzie likes Los Altos’ chances of returning to Fresno’s Woodward Park for this year’s state meet, slated Nov. 24.
“We strongly believe we can be one of the top three teams and qualify as a team to the state championships,” she said.
The Eagles’ depth has something to do with her optimism. Three members of the boys team placed in the top 10 at the league finals, led by “the ever-reliable Adam Sage,” the coach said. The junior placed second with a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 38 seconds. His twin brother, Luke, came in sixth with a personal-record 16:15.
“Luke could see there was a large pack of Paly boys breaking away at the 1-mile mark, so he pushed himself to the limit to stay with them and break it up a bit,” Steph said.
Sophomore Kevin Andrews finished ninth (16:26.1). Junior Daniel Ghasemfar (11th, 16:39.5) and senior Rian Lawlor (12th, 16:41.6) also figured into the team score.
Los Altos finished 10 points behind Paly and 52 points ahead of third-place Gunn.
On the girls side, Los Altos took third to advance to CCS as well.
“Our three seniors had a strong showing,” Steph said of Naomi Donovan (second, 19:12.6), Lily Beck (sixth, 19:49.0) and Anya Gupta (ninth, 19:59.7).
Freshmen Lily Aronovitz (22:09.1) and Shelli Lewis (22:13.3) took 30th and 31st, respectively.
The Eagles placed nine points behind runner-up Gunn and 18 ahead of Mountain View, which finished fourth. Freshman Julia Gentin paced the Spartans with a seventh-place time of 19:49.3.
Los Altos’ frosh-soph boys finished first in their race. Collin Hepworth defended his league title (17:13) and fellow sophomore Hans Holst came in second (17:17). The Eagles’ frosh-soph girls took third.
Lancers claim titles
The St. Francis boys successfully defended their West Catholic Athletic League title by winning the third WCAL meet, held Oct. 31 at Crystal Springs. The Lancers edged rival Bellarmine by two points.
“We knew we would be tested by a very strong Bellarmine team, and we put together our best 1-7 race of the season,” St. Francis coach Phil Pompei said. “Some of our top runners were hoping to run a little faster, but championship season is about competing, and we did a great job of that.”
Six Lancers finished in the top 10: Eric Eng (second, 15:19.5), Juan Pablo Garcia (third, 15:31.8), Colton Colonna (fourth, 15:42.1), Aiden Maddison (fifth, 15:46.7), Daniel Skahill (seventh, 15:53.6) and Euan Cairns (ninth, 16:02.7).
The St. Francis girls finished as league co-champs with Presentation. Christel Elkins placed fourth (19:38.2) at last week’s meet and Claire Callon came in ninth (20:00.5).