Sarah Robinson is back on the track.
The Los Altos Hills resident recently gave up soccer to focus on distance running – the other sport in which she excelled during her days at Gunn High.
Robinson was headed to Stanford University on a soccer scholarship last September, but she opted to take a gap year instead.
“I decided at the very last minute,” said Robinson, who will enroll at Stanford in the fall without any athletic commitments. “It was a good decision.”
During her year off from school, Robinson rediscovered her love for running. She started to train in February while serving as an assistant track coach at Gunn.
“I guess I wasn’t ready to give it up,” she said.
Robinson ran off the rust by participating in a few open meets in the spring, regaining the form that made her the most-decorated runner in Gunn history.
She quickly qualified for the USA Track & Field Junior Nationals and ran the 3,000-meter race at last month’s meet in Eugene, Ore. She finished fifth out of 20 entrants from throughout the country.
While Robinson wasn’t elated with her time of 9 minutes, 58.84 seconds – 18 ticks behind the winner – it was still encouraging.
“I felt like I could have done better, but it was a good experience,” she said. “It definitely has me itching to race again.”
Gunn head coach PattiSue Plumer watched the June 28 race online and was impressed with Robinson’s effort.
“She ran the perfect race for the first six laps. She was in the lead pack of five girls. With two laps to go, the two leaders made a move, which she was able to cover, but with about 600 (meters left), they threw in a big surge,” said Plumer, a Los Altos resident who continues to coach Robinson. “Between the heat and her inexperience, she didn’t feel like she could go with them and fell off the pace at that point. But her goal was a top-six finish and she held on for even better than that.”
The heat was certainly a factor – Robinson ran at 5 p.m. on a day in which temperatures reached triple digits.
“It was really hot,” said Robinson, who tried to beat the heat by placing ice-water-soaked towels on the back of her neck during warm-ups. “I think on another day, I could have gone faster.”
No girl at Gunn has ever run faster than Robinson in the 1,600 and 3,200 – she holds school records in both events. Just a year ago, she won the 1,600 at the state meet and finished second in the 3,200. In 2013, Robinson was recognized as an All-American in cross-country and soccer.
While Robinson said she has no plans to play soccer at Stanford, she didn’t rule out running for the Cardinal. She might join Stanford’s running club, coached by Plumer, in the coming school year.
As for the remainder of the summer, Robinson said her running schedule is “up in the air. I might do more opens or some longer road races.”