Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 9, 2012

Gunn gets Robinson back for CCS meet

Standout runner cleared for cross country finals

by Keith Peters

The 2012 Central Coast Section Cross Country Championships, set for Saturday in Salinas, just got a lot more interesting with the addition of one runner who has missed all but one meet this season.

That would be Gunn junior Sarah Robinson, who ran in the first meet of the season and then was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign due to a "medical problem."

Not even first-year Gunn coach Craig Blockhus knew of Robinson's status until just recently, and that was in regards to her availability and not why she had been sidelined.

While Robinson did miss qualifying for the CCS Championships, which will be held at Toro Park in Salinas, Blockhus was able to get her a medical waiver once he had a document from her doctor.

Blochhus finally obtained that doctor's note this week, met with Gunn Athletic Director Sarah Stapp on Thursday morning and finally got the official OK to allow Robinson to run.

Robinson is the defending CCS Division I champion in addition to finishing third at the State Meet in 2011 to cap a sensational season. She spent most of the year after that playing for the U.S. Soccer U-17 National Team and helping the squad qualify for the U-17 World Cup that was held in September in Azerbaijan.

Robinson, however, missed that tournament due to a medical issue. While she was expected to have a full season of cross country, but that disappeared in a hurry.

Robinson will be at the staring line on Saturday for the girls' Division I race at 2:05 p.m. The Titans barely qualified without her, finishing fourth at the SCVAL El Camino Division Championships. With Robinson back, the Titans could be among the challengers for the top two spots, which earn berths to the CIF State Meet in Fresno on Nov. 24.

Robinson reportedly has been training on her own and worked out for 20 minutes with the team one day this week. Blockhus, however, has no idea of her fitness. Last season, Robinson won the CCS title with a 17.12 clocking on the 2.95-mile layout at Crystal Springs. Toro Park offers a 3.0-mile course.

Also battling for team honors in Division I will be the Menlo-Atherton girls, whose lineup of two juniors and five freshmen won the Peninsula Athletic League Championships a few weeks ago. The Bears were projected to finish third, that before Robinson became eligible.

Palo Alto is projected to finish fifth. If the Vikings don't qualify as a team, sophomore Katie Foug should be in the running for an at-large berth to the State Meet.

In girls' Division IV, Menlo School freshman Zoe Enright will battle for an individual berth along with sophomore teammate Lizzie Lacy. In Division V, Fiona Maloney-McCrystle of Castilleja also will run for an at-large berth.

For the boys, Menlo-Atherton has an outside shot to advance in Division I, Sacred Heart Prep sophomore Daniel Hill is a possible at-large candidate in Division IV and Priory junior Chris Gregory could lead the Panthers to a team berth in Division V.

Water polo

The Palo Alto boys and Gunn girls will play another day in their respective CCS tournaments, but the competition will be a whole lot tougher.

Palo Alto opened play in the CCS Division I playoffs with a 14-6 triumph over visiting Los Gatos on Wednesday night.

Seniors Bret Pinsker and Quinn Rockwell accounted for seven goals, with Pinsker leading the Vikings with four. Michael Kori and fellow senior Brian Berry contributed four goals apiece to take care of the Wildcats, who Paly defeated during the SCVAL De Anza Division season.

The victory sends Palo Alto into Saturday's quarterfinals, where the No. 8-seeded Vikings (19-8) will face No. 1 Bellarmine (15-11) at Sacred Heart Prep at 4 p.m. The Bells are the defending Division I champs and have won two of the past three crowns.

Palo Alto last won a CCS title in 1997.

Saturday's match will feature a reunion of both teams' coaching staffs as Paly's Brandon and Matt Johnson and Bellarmine's Colin Mello, Jamie Frank and Derrik Jarvis all played at UC Irvine.

In other Division I action Saturday, No. 3 Menlo-Atherton (12-12) will face No. 6 Leland (22-5) at Sacred Heart Prep at 1:15 p.m.

In boys' Division II quarterfinal action Saturday, No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (22-4) will host No. 8 Burlingame (12-7) at 9:30 a.m., and No. 2 Menlo School (14-10) will face No. 7 St. Ignatius (16-12) at St. Francis at 2 p.m.

The Gunn girls, meanwhile, swamped visiting Carlmont, 21-3, in CCS Division I action in the Titans' pool. Fourth-seeded Gunn (20-7) blew the game open quickly with a 9-1 advantage in the opening period.

Junior Caroline Anderson scored eight goals and senior Lauren Lesyna added five. Senior Maggie Sockness tallied three times as Gunn rolled to a 15-1 halftime advantage over the Scots, who were making their first-ever CCS appearance.

Next up for Gunn will be Saturday's quarterfinals and a meeting with No. 4 Mitty (15-10) at Christopher High in Gilroy. The Titans already have suffered a loss to the Monarchs this season. Should Gunn win, a likely semifinal opponent will be No. 1 seed St. Francis.

In other Division I action Saturday, No. 3 Menlo-Atherton (14-10) will take on No. 6 Los Gatos (14-8) at Sacred Heart Prep at 2:30 p.m.

In CCS Division II quarterfinal action, five-time defending champion Sacred Heart Prep (18-8) will host No. 9 Santa Catalina (18-8) at 10:45 a.m. Fourth-seeded Castilleja (11-13) will take on No. 5 Soquel (24-3) at Christopher High at 11:30 a.m.

Victories by both local teams means a showdown of both Gators' teams in the semifinals.

Girls' tennis

Menlo School moved on but Palo Alto did not following the second round of the CCS Team Tournament on Wednesday.

The No. 4-seeded Knights got three wins at No. 3 singles from junior Christine Eliazo and a 2-0 mark at No. 3 doubles while defeating visiting Santa Catalina, 13-3, in the new three singles, three doubles round-robin format.

Menlo also got 2-0 records from Liz Yao at No. 1 singles and Giannina Ong at No. 2 and lost only one doubles match and two singles matches with reserves. The Knights (16-7) will host No. 5 Saratoga on Friday in the quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m.

The Falcons (13-6) advanced with an 11-7 triumph over visiting Palo Alto (16-10).

A Menlo victory on Friday likely means a date with top seed and undefeated Monta Vista on Monday.

Girls' volleyball

Eighth-seeded Gunn (16-17) saw its season end with a 23-25, 25-23, 26-24, 28-26 loss to visiting Sequoia in a CCS Division I opener on Wednesday night.

The Titans also saw the end of coach Kevin Hwang's four-year career. Hwang is stepping away while awaiting the birth of he and his wife's first child.

Erica Johnston had 17 kills and Lena Latour added 13 for the Titans, who held a 24-20 advantage in Game 3 but couldn't close it out.

The No. 9-seeded Cherokees (28-6) now advance to Saturday's quarterfinals, where they will face host and No. 1 seed Palo Alto (27-6) at 7 p.m.

In another quarterfinal Saturday, No. 3 Menlo-Atherton (24-7) will host No. 6 San Benito (21-13), also at 7 p.m. Semifinals will be held Wednesday at Santa Clara High.

In Division IV, No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep (27-5) will host No. 7 Mercy-Burlingame (23-12) on Saturday while No. 3 Menlo School (22-10) hosts No. 6 Notre Dame-Belmont (17-14) in a quarterfinal, both at 7 p.m.

Should the Gators and Knights win, they'll face each other Wednesday in a semifinal at Menlo School.

In Division V, defending CCS champ Castilleja (16-15) will risk its No. 4 seed against No. 5 Anzar (23-5) on Saturday at 5 p.m., with No. 2 Priory (18-8) hosting No. 7 Alma Heights (18-4) at 7 p.m.

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