Front photo by Mark Foster
The Menlo School and Castilleja girls cross country teams and the Eastside College Prep boys team all qualified for the state meet after everything was done and said at the Central Coast Section championships at Toro Park in Salinas on Saturday.
Menlo's Robert Miranda won the boys Division IV title and Castilleja's Tevah Gevelber won the girls Division V title.
Individual qualifiers include TKA's Anna Mokkapati and St. Francis Isabelle Cairns, Woodside residents, SHP's Luci Lambert, Kellillah Jewish senior Elyse Folkman and Gunn's Joyce Shea on the girls side. Palo Alto's Henry Saul and Sam Craig and Gunn's Justin Chiao also qualified.
The Eastside College Prep boys earned their way to the state meet with a third-place finish in Division V. Following Carlos anye Nunez (17:19.4) were Alexis Nunez (13th, 17:22.7), Max Velazquez (22nd, 18:06.0), Jose Munoz (25th, 18:23.7) and Cristopher Mansilla (26th, 18:25.9).
Joshua Mendez (29th, 18:35.3) and Erick Hernandez (43rd, 19:05.2) also raced for the Panthers.
Priory finished fourth with 144 points. Senior Jack Nash (18th, 17:44.7) was Priory's top runner. Freshman Ronan Byrne (20th, 17:52.7) and Josh Oh (33rd, 18:45.8) showed promise along with sophomores Jack Dempsey (37th, 18:54.1) and Burt Draxler-Sadler (38th, 18:58.9).
Freshman Jadan Wenceslao and senior Michael Gunn also raced for the Panthers.
In Division V girls, Castilleja did a terrific job of staying with Nueva, who had four runners among the top 10, as all five scoring runners finished among the top 21 and No. 6 runner Ananya Ramkumar affected the score by finishing ahead of Nueva's fifth runner.
Gevelber won in 19:14.1 and was followed by Lauren Traum (7th, 20:50.7), Angie Wang (16th, 21:42.2), Riona Yoshida (20th, 21:56.3) and Lia Spencer (21st, 21:57.6). Senior Caroline Hallee also raced for the Gators
Folkman was ninth for the Rams, with a time of 21:08.9, in qualifying for the state meet.
Priory placed sixth and was led by freshmen Kaela Marshek (11th, 21:14.6) and Eszter Horvath (14th, 21:32.3). Senior El Fishawy (53rd, 24:33.0) finished just ahead of Mid-Peninsula freshman Reina Iorocci (54th, 24:47.5).
Priory junior Anna Boyle and freshman Emily Stanger also scored for the team.
Eastside College Prep was ninth with 204 points. Senior Clarissa Guzman (28th, 22:28.5) was the Panthers top runner. She was followed by Ariana Aranda (46th, 23:51.6), senior Vanessa Gurrola (50th, 24:11.8) and sophomore Yesenia Verduzco (55th, 25:06.2).
Menlo School (74 points) won its first Division IV trophy in program history after taking second to Santa Cruz (32 points). Both teams will head to state, along with third place San Lorenzo Valley.
"Menlo was third right before the hills, trailing San Lorenzo Valley by 21 points at the 1.6-mile mark," Menlo coach Jorge Chen said. "They didn't panic and just kept on working hard on the back side, and sure enough when all was said and done they held on to second."
Miranda won the CCS Division IV championship by 24 seconds, coming in 15:43.5, the sixth-best time across all divisions, and a West Bay Athletic League record on the course.
Freshman Kamran Murray finished sixth to take the last individual qualifying spot by running 16:18 which is a 0:28 PR and also the fastest freshman overall by seven seconds.
Sophomore Charlotte Tomkinson took fourth among 96 runners in the girls Division IV race in 19:05. She beat her PR by 1:05. Fellow sophomore Kyra Pretre took sixth in 19:24.2.
Freshman Marisa Castagna also hit a PR, shaving her time by 1:03, by running 20:26 and fellow freshman Gabby Kogler PR'ed by 1:42 with a time of 21:31.
Sophomore Katie Aufricht was in 34th place with 150 meters to go, and passed four girls to finish 30th, and help the team to gain some much-needed points.
Mokkapati was timed in 18:38.3 to finish second in the Division IV race. Lambert followed her with a third-place showing in 18:56.5.
Fellow SHP freshman Genna Gibbons was 20th (20:34.4), junior Keemya Bashiri was 28th (21:34.5), senior Brooke Whitcomb was 39th (21:56.8) and junior Ingrid Corrigan (67th, 23:38.0) finished just ahead of junior Grace Johnson (69th, 23:48.5).
In Division IV boys, the Gators placed fourth with 166 points, eight points behind third-place Marina. SHP got solid efforts from freshman Calvin Katz (13th, 16:53.9), junior Max Cluss (18th, 17:01.3) and freshman Axel Devernou (19th, 17:06.0).
The Palo Alto's girls and boys cross country teams showed a lot of promise this season but illness and injuries muted their potential.
Coaches Michael Davidson and Wendy Smith said: "everyone should feel very proud of their efforts. There were lots of personal improvements and team bonding was felt throughout the season."
The Menlo-Atherton girls were third in the largest contingent of teams (20) on the day. Sophomore Lena Kalotihos was the top Bears runner, placing 14th in 20:00.4.
M-A senior Cricket Gorey finished 19th overall (20:11.2) and was followed by freshman Claire Beebe (27th, 20:22.4), junior Sara Osterberg (28th, 20:23.1) and freshman Isabella Leake (36th, 20:32.2).
The Paly girls placed fourth on a tiebreaker, with Julia Doubson back in the lineup. Miranda Jimenez led the team with an 11th place finish, followed by Doubson, Kai Douglas, Gretchen Berndt, Julie Meng, Audrey Lemoine and Zoe Douglas.
The Paly boys finished fifth but will send Henry Saul and Sam Craig to the state meet.
Donald Taggart, Aashai Avadhani, John Tayeri, Matias Sama and Ben Huang followed the top two runner.
Another top runner, Reed Foster, was out with an injury.
The Menlo-Atherton boys were ninth in Division I, with sophomore Ethan Mimeles (17th, 16:32.7) and junior Luke Scandlyn (28th, 16:56.1) leading the way.
Shea finished second in the Division II girls race, one of the rare events in which she did not win outright.
Still, she'll take her 18:47.0 to the state meet and work on chiseling away at the time. The Gunn girls were fifth with 134 points. Sophomore Sophie Alexis was 15th (20:01.3) for the Titans and senior Abigail Twoy was 26th (20:29.0).
Cairns, another of a pretty good list of runners who graduated from the Woodside Wildbeests program, placed ninth in 19:43.6.
Senior Isabelle Couch (46th, 21:17.3) was Woodside's top runner, with sophomore Sarah Perry (47th, 21:19.1) close behind.
The Gunn boys placed sixth in Division II and will be represented at the state meet by the sophomore Chiao, who was 13th overall in 16:27.9.
Seniors Colin Huang (34th, 17:18.9) and Edo Eltherington (42nd, 17:30.7), junior Noah Kuehn (47th, 17:41.2) and freshman Elijah Schachterr (57th, 18:03.8) completed the Titans' scoring.
Freshmen Casey Orton (45th, 17:34.3) and Daniel Longo (55th, 17:55.1) helped Woodside finish ninth.