Making team plans for the state meet | April 5, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 5, 2019

Making team plans for the state meet

Menlo's Tomkinson set for big weekend in Arcadia

by Glenn Reeves

Charlotte Tomkinson has the state's fastest time in the girls 800 and will run that race Saturday at the Arcadia Invitational against other elite runners.

But her focus this weekend is on her team, rather than on individual achievement.

In addition to running the open 800, Tomkinson will run a leg on three different Menlo relay teams -- the 4x800, the sprint medley and the distance medley. She will run the 4x800 and the sprint medley on Friday, the open 800 and the distance medley on Saturday.

Why such a heavy workload?

A rehearsal for what's to come.

"It's a perfect simulation for what we predict will happen at the state meet,'' Menlo coach Jorge Chen said.

If all goes as expected and hoped for, Tomkinson would run the 800 and the 4x400 preliminaries on a Friday and the 800 and 4x400 finals on a Saturday at the state meet in Clovis. The Menlo 4x400 team of Michelle Louie, Lauren Hamilton, Tomkinson and Kyra Pretre ran a Central Coast Section-best 3:59.78, cracking the 4-minute barrier for the first time, at the Stanford Invitational last weekend. Menlo has a 4x400 B team entered at Arcadia.

Tomkinson, who ran a state-best 2:10.61 in the 800 at the Dublin Distance Fiesta, will join forces with Maddie Sanders, Marisa Castagna and Pretre in the 4x800 at Arcadia, with Louie, Hamilton and Pretre in the sprint medley (running the 400 and Pretre the 800 leg), and with Hamilton, Castagna and Pretre in the distance medley (running the 1,200 leg).

The open 800 field includes Concord's Rayna Stanziano, who Tomkinson kicked past to run her state-leading time at Dublin. Stanziano's second-place time at Dublin, 2:11.22, is also the second-fastest time in the state. At last year's state meet Stanziano came in third and Tomkinson sixth.

It might be too much to expect Tomkinson, with the heavy workload and concomitant tired legs, to run a new season-best in the 800 at Arcadia. But Chen had this to say:

"I don't like to make predictions,'' he said. " I'm superstitious. But I do believe she's going to do well.''

Palo Alto is taking the opposite approach with its top individual runner. The Vikings are sending a distance medley relay team to Arcadia, but top runner Henry Saul will only compete in the open 3,200.

After running 9:14.42 at the Azusa Pacfic Distance Meet of Champions, the fastest time in the CCS by 13 seconds, Saul said he was aiming to run in the low 9s at Arcadia.

"He's certainly capable of doing that,'' Palo Alto coach Michael Davidson said. "It's just a matter of modifying some of his race strategies along with the right combination of competition.''

The main in-race situation to avoid, Davidson said, was running in a pack that might result in getting boxed in.

Paly is entering four relay teams: A girls distance medley team comprised of Kai Douglas (1,200), Brianna Miller (400), Ella Ball (800) and Miranda Jimenez (1,600); a boys distance medley team of Donald Taggart (1,200), Luca Pagani (400), Carlos Diaz or Aleksei Seletskiy (800) and Alex Evans (1,600); a girls 4x400 team (Madeline Lohse, Ariel Le, Kim Sterling and Katherine Cheng); and a girls shuttle hurdles team (Le, Sterling, Maria Fletcher and Samantha Feldmeier).

Gunn is sending two athletes to Arcadia, Jared Freeman in the shot put and discus, and Justin Chiao in the 800.

Freeman leads the CCS in both throws and will be hoping the strong field at Arcadia will help spur him on to establish new personal bests.

Chiao is currently fourth in the CCS in the 800 at 1:56.66, but is making progress while being coached by Gunn head coach Michael Granville, who set the national high school record in the 800 in 1996 (1:46.45), a record that still stands.

"I feel Justin could hit around 1:54, especially, with his 51 speed in the 400,'' Granville said. "We are now transitioning into more speed specific workouts. His times this week suggests that he can go 50-point (in the 400). Cool part is he has another year left in high school.''


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