The Palo Alto girls cross country team, without one of its top runners, won its first SCVAL El Camino Division title in 12 years Tuesday at Crystal Springs and qualified for the Central Coast Section meet on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Toro Park in Salinas.
Gunn's Joyce Shea won the individual title but the Vikings won the title led by Julie Meng and Kai Douglas, who placed fourth and fifth. Senior Julia Doubson was unable to run due to illness. She is expected to be ready for the CCS meet.
Gretchen Berndt, Miranda Jimenez and Audrey Lemoine also scored for Palo Alto. Charlotte Kim and Zoe Douglas also ran.
The Palo Alto boys were missing two of their better runners but a dramatic finish by Sam Craig, who raced 15:29 to out-sprint Los Altos' Owen Mackenzie, sparked a second-place finish and a spot in the CCS.
With top runner Henry Saul out with an illness and Reed Foster missing the race with an injury, it was left to Craig and his teammates to summon the energy to qualify for the next race.
Donald Taggart, Aashai Avadhani, John Tayeri and Matias Sama scored for the Vikings.