For the first four weeks, the Los Altos High track and field team took “a different approach” to this season, coach Steph MacKenzie said, because the Eagles assumed they would not be competing in league or Central Coast Section championships this year.
“It’s not as strategic,” she said late last week. “We’re not focused on points.”
MacKenzie added that she was OK with her athletes focusing more on personal records in their favorite events in a season shortened by the pandemic.
Then came Friday’s decision by the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League Board of Managers to allow its teams to participate in the postseason (see related story).
“Now that we have SCVAL finals and CCS, we will adjust our training plans and look forward to an extended season for a lot of these athletes,” MacKenzie said.
Based on how Los Altos has performed thus far, several athletes should make postseason plans. With two meets to go, the Los Altos boys are 4-0 in the SCVAL De Anza Division and the girls are 3-1.
Standout sprinter and jumper Zach Fagin explained what’s behind the Eagles’ winning ways.
“We have a great coaching staff for track,” he said, “and the athletes want to get better; they are all serious about the sport.”
Fagin is so serious about the sport that he gave up basketball this season for track because “we had no season last year and I’m passionate about it.”
Fagin won the 100-meter dash (11.63 seconds) and took third in the long jump (19 feet, 11.75 inches) Friday at Palo Alto, where the Los Altos boys thumped the Vikings 98-29.
Teammate John Zhai claimed the long jump with a personal-record of 20-7 that ranks first in the league. The senior also won the triple jump (42-8) and was second in the high jump (6-0).
Junior Shawn Toney and senior Jimmy Dessouki “continue to push each other in the hurdles,” MacKenzie said. In a photo finish Friday, Toney (15.83) edged Dessouki (15.84) in the 110 hurdles. Dessouki evened the score in the 300 hurdles; he won in 39.79 and Toney came in second (40.55).
Both boys ran on the Eagles’ victorious 4x400 relay team (3:36.54), and Toney added another win in the discus (102-03).
Senior Kevin Andrews, also part of the 4x400 team, had a busy day as well. He won the 3,200 run (9:50.34) and placed second in both the 800 (2:00.56) and 1,600 (4:22.61) runs.
Tomoki Chien claimed the 400 run (54.57), while fellow junior Jacob Howmiller won the 200 dash (23.93) and secured second place in the 100 (11.80).
Several other Eagles took home second-place honors: sophomore Ruslan Tavrow in the shot put (100-03), junior Joshua Kung in the triple jump (41-05.50), junior Victor Chung in the shot put (32-00) and junior Reece Enthoven in the 400 dash (54.74).
The Los Altos girls prevailed 64-51 behind a strong showing from the coach’s daughter, Megan MacKenzie. The sophomore won all four of her events: the long jump (15-11), triple jump (36-1.5), 400 dash (59.63) and 200 dash (27.07). Her 400 time, a personal record, is tops in the league. She also ranks first in the triple jump and high jump (tied), and is second in the long jump.
Junior Trinity Bang won the discus (86-09) and shot put (25-03), setting a PR in the latter.
Another junior, Jenna Houdek, captured the 100 dash with a PR of 13.15. She also ran on the winning 4x100 relay team (53.69) and was second in the 200 (28.15).
Senior Maura Kelleher was the runner-up in the high jump (4-10) and triple jump (33-00.50).
Junior Kaylin Mootz took second in the long jump (15-6) and third in the triple jump (32-08).
Additional second-place finishers included senior Ella Chang in the 100 hurdles (18.10) and sophomore Fiona Bodkin in the 3,200 run (12:03.34).
Distance running is among the Eagles’ strengths, according to coach MacKenzie. Between Bodkin, junior Riley Capuano and freshman Maddy Randall, “you don’t know who will win on any given day,” she said. “They’re really close.”
Randall finished third in both the 800 (2:26.63) and 1,600 (5:23.57) runs Friday.
The Los Altos girls and boys teams are slated to visit Lynbrook today and cap their dual-meet season Tuesday at Los Gatos. Both meets start at 3:30 p.m.
The league meet/CCS qualifier is scheduled May 29 at Los Gatos High, with the CCS semifinals and finals set for June 12 and 19, respectively, at Soquel High.