Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 29, 2013

Palo Alto boys still chasing some records

by Keith Peters

Head coach Jason Fung and his Palo Alto boys' track and field team enjoyed an historic season in 2012. The Vikings swept titles in the SCVAL De Anza Division dual-meet season and at the league finals in addition to winning the program's first-ever Central Coast Section team crown.

Junior E.J. Floreal, meanwhile, helped re-write the school record book by running to school records of 10.52 in the 100 meters and 21.16 in the 200 and anchoring the 400 relay to another school mark of 41.56. The 4x400 relay, meanwhile, also lowered a 1981 record to 3:20.69 in the state meet prelims.

The possibility of any of those records falling this season appeared gone when Floreal left the state for Kentucky and both relays lost two seniors to graduation.

While no one is talking about taking down Floreal's individual marks, both relays are targeted for revision with nearly all new squad members.

"We're getting faster," said Fung, "and we're getting stronger. They just need to be pushed a little."

The 400 relay team has seen various members this season due to injuries. The main squad of Matt Tolbert, Jayshawn Gates, Jon Alee and Nick Sullivan has run a CCS-leading 42.53 while other team members have contributed to the squad running consistently under 43.00.

Michael Johnson replaced Tolbert in Tuesday's 65-62 dual-meet win over Los Altos and Paly ripped off a conservative 42.57.

The Vikings are ranked No. 15 in the state and No. 2 in Northeren California and will be tested this weekend at the annual Stanford Invitational at Cobb Track and Angell Field. NorCal leader De La Salle will be in the field with its 42.28, which ranks No. 11 in the state.

Tolbert will be back in the lineup but Alee will be out when the Vikings challenge all-comers, beginning with prelims Saturday at 9:25 a.m. The top teams in five races will advance to the finals at 12:30 p.m.

While it's still early in the season, Fung would not be surprised if the 41.56 school mark is surpassed this season.

"It's an attainable goal," he said. "We just have to clean up some things. We've been pretty consistent around 42.5 without E.J. I'm excited to see what they can do. I think everyone can bring down their time a tenth."

De La Salle and Palo Alto have the two fastest entry times in the 400 relay while Castro Valley brings a 42.73 that ranks No. 22 in the state. Roosevelt (Southern Section) is the state leader at 41.50.

Gates (10.97) and Johnson (10.98) rank among the CCS leaders in the open 100 meters with Tolbert right behind in 11.08. That's a good start to a fast relay.

Fung said his relay members have the confidence to break the 400 record at some point in the season.

The 1,600 relay mark may be even easier to get, once freshman Eli Givens is added to the mix. Givens won the frosh-soph 400 against Los Altos in 51.88, which was faster than the winning varsity time, and has run 51.07. Sullivan, however, did not run that event Tuesday. He's the CCS leader at 49.63 this season. Add in Johnson and Alee and a sub-3:20 time could be attainable.

In West Bay Athletic League meets Wednesday, the Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep boys each won team titles at their respective schools.

At Menlo, the Knights scored 254 points to defeat Priory (110) and Eastside Prep (103) while at SHP, the Gators scored 251 points to down St. Lawrence Academy (101), Harker (55) and Pinewood (13).

In the girls' meets, Menlo (146) was second, Eastside Prep third (84) and Casteilleja fourth (83) to Mercy-Burlingame's winning total of 201. At SHP, the Gators (79.5) trailed Notre Dame-SJ (164) and Mercy-SF (93) while Pinewood was fourth (54.5).

Menlo senior Max Parker won the 100 (11.77) and 200 (23.35) and ran a leg on the winning 400 relay (45.33). Junior teammate Matt Myers swept the 1,600 (4:40.31) and 800 (2:05.69), sophomore Sean Felderman swept the 110 high hurdles 18.60) and 300 intermediates (48.15), and senior Conor Shanley swept the shot put (39-0) and discus (112-1).

For the Menlo girls, junior Maddy Price took the 100 (12.77) and 200 (25.78), Laura Gradiska swept the hurdles (17.17 and 48.58), and Zoe Enright won the 1,600 (5:36.25) and 800 (2:31.12).

Daisy Alvarado-Munoz was a double-winner for Priory, taking the shot put (27-0) and discus (87-6), while Mia Kirkendoll of Eastside Prep swept the long jump (14-2 3/4) and triple jump (32-0 1/2).

At SHP, the Gators were led by Daniel Hill's sweep in the 1,600 (4:48.57) and 800 (2:13.21), Ricky Grau's sweep in the hurdles (15.79 and 42.91), and Nico Robinson's victories in the 100 (11.48), 200 (23.30) and long jump (22-6 1/2), the latter moving him into the No. 2 spot on the Central Coast Section leaders' list.

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