Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 6, 2013

Robinson will race against nation's best

Gunn senior will compete in Nike Cross Nationals after taking fourth at CIF State Meet in cross country

by Keith Peters

Gunn senior Sarah Robinson made the penultimate race in her prep career in cross country a good one by finishing fourth in the girls' Division I race at the CIF State Championships last Saturday morning at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Robinson clocked 17:16 over the 3.1-mile course — a 5:34 per mile pace — to finish as the No. 2 runner from Northern California. Fiona O'Keefe of Davis won in 16:59.

Robinson's time converts to a 16:55 for the 2.95-mile layout at Crystal Springs, where she won the Central Coast Section title in a personal-best 16:59.

"I am very proud of Sarah," said Gunn coach PattiSue Plumer. "It was a blistering race and she went for it; first mile in 5:21. However, I think she wanted a top-three finish. I think her time would have been good for first or second in any other division."

Robinson had the seventh-fastest time overall in all divisions and would have been second in Division II, III or IV. She would have won Division V.

Robinson next will compete this Saturday at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland, Ore. She'll be in a field of 45 elite runners from around the nation racing in a multiple-loop race inside the horse race track at Portland Meadows. The event is considered the most prestigious in the country.

At the state meet, Gunn, which was second at the Central Coast Section finals to Monta Vista, trailed the Matadors once again as the Titans took 14th as a team with Monta Vista taking 12th.

"In terms of the team, a really solid performance for the smallest team in D1 at State," Plumer said. "I was shooting for a top-15 finish so we squeaked under that!"

Gunn sophomore Gillian Meeks was 46th overall in 18:37 followed by sophomore teammate Maya Miklos (20:00) in 143rd, junior Amy Aiken (20:04) in 147th, sophomore Sherry Zhou (20:28) in 163rd and freshman Illi Gardner (20:28) in 164th.

"I'm especially pleased," Plumer said of her team effort, "given the lack of experience on the team and losing (freshman) Claire Hu at CCS. I try to tell them what it is like, but just really hard to understand until you've gone through it. We had five girls on that squad who had never run cross country before this season and no one had a bad race. Gillian Meeks had a nice improvement from last year, as well, and we thought we might lose her earlier this season to an illness. So yes, the coach is very happy."

In the Division IV girls' race, Menlo School junior Lizzie Lacy raced home sixth in 18:31 and was the No. 3 finisher from the CCS. Menlo sophomore Zoe Enright was 30th in 19:26.

Lacy improved her personal record by 50 seconds. Enright also had a solid race while fighting plantar fasciatis. Anna Maxwell of San Lorenzo Valley won the race in 17:08.

Lacy said following the plan that co-coach Jorge Chen outlined helped her feel relaxed as the race progressed.

"I feel like this course is all about strategy," Lacy said. "With Zoe, working together definitely helped us, I think, as moving through people is a lot easier when you have someone there to motivate you. If she was feeling better, I believe she would have ended up with me or even more successful."

Lacy and Enright started out fairly fast, and kept pace so they could stay with the lead pack.

"I was definitely surprised with the leading pack and how the group of them fell back and closed the gap," Lacy said. "Once there wasn't a gap anymore, I think we took advantage of the proximity and gave it our all to try to pass those guys."

Both ran the race plan "to perfection," Chen said. Lacy and Enright ran the first split in 5:46, staying in the low-20s (22nd and 23rd) in the first mile before beginning to move.

In the Division V girls' race, Pinewood junior Nicole Colonna was eighth in 19:17 and was the top finisher from the CCS. In the team competition, Priory finished 18th out of 22 teams. Sophomore Hana Marsheck led the Panthers in 20th place (19:43). Other Priory scorers were sophomore Maria Naclerio in 101st (21:49), freshman Elise Rust in 124th (22:20), sophomore Sarah Halabe in 132nd (22:35), and senior Madison Hughes in 155th (23:46).

In the Division I boys' race, Menlo-Atherton senior Zach Plante finished 80th in 16:15, averaging 5:14 per mile. He was the lone area runner competing in the race.

In the Division IV boys' race, Sacred Heart Prep junior Daniel Hill finished 30th in 16:32, averaging 5:20 per mile. He was No. 6 among all CCS finishers.

In the Division V boys' race, Priory finished 10th out of 24 teams as senior Chris Gregory was 34th (16:58), junior Ross Corey was 36th (17:00), senior Johnny Trudelle 58th (17:21), sophomore Robert Screven 90th (17:52) and senior Leo Berez 110th (18:11).

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