Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Members of the Menlo-Atherton varsity track and field team celebrate after winning the Peninsula Athletic League boys’ and girls’ team championship titles Saturday at M-A.
The kids from the Menlo-Atherton girls’ track and field team are all right. Actually, they’re better than all right. They’re Peninsula Athletic League champions.
Both the Menlo-Atherton girls’ and boys’ squads won the PAL track and field team championships Saturday at M-A. The boys’ team won just three overall gold medals but relied on plenty of depth to shore up the title. The girls’ team, meanwhile, earned seven individual gold medals, including a strong showing from its underclassmen.
While seniors Charlotte Schroeder (300-meter hurdlers) and Kalina Zanelli (high jump) each took first place in their respective events, freshman Brooke Olesen had an exceptional showing to make her mark in the girls’ 400 with a time of 58.50 seconds, over five seconds better than Woodside senior Whitney Suelflohn’s second-place run.
“I start running it really fast and just hold it,” Olesen said.
It seemed unfathomable that she could hold it after such a burst of speed off the blocks in the one-lap race. But she finished as strong of stride as the start. Olesen’s performance in the 400 not only stands as the best time in the PAL this season. It also ranks seventh in the Central Coast Section, and first in the event among CCS freshmen.
“It’s early on in her career,” M-A head coach Alan Perry said. “She’s just trying to find out what her body is capable of … but she’s got a lot of talent.”
Olesen’s performance was one of five PAL-best marks on the day by the M-A girls.
In individual events, sophomore Maggie Hall also notched the season’s best in the girls’ 200 with a time of 25.14 — good for sixth in CCS, and tops among CCS underclassmen — sophomore Megan St. John took gold in the girls’ 100 hurdles with a PAL-best 15.98 seconds, and Schroeder took gold in the girls’ 300 hurdles with a PAL-best 46.23 seconds — good for seventh in CCS.
In the girls’ 4x100 relay, Olesen, Hall, Schroeder and Jessica Eagle had the best run of the season in PAL to take gold with a time of 49.10 seconds — ranking sixth in CCS.
M-A also topped the field in the girls’ 4x400 relay with a time of 4:10.00, highlighted by Olesen’s anchor leg. The freshman already had a three-stride lead when she took the baton from Hall, but when she crossed the finish line a lap later she was over 50 meters ahead of the pack. Aragon took second-place in the event in 4:16.05.
“I just want to get it to her with a lead and I know she can finish it strong,” Hall said.
Perry credited Schroeder and Hall as being M-A’s top performers of the girls’ meet.
In the team standings, the M-A girls totaled 141 points, with second-place Mills (102 points), third-place Aragon (68), Westmoor (45), Woodside (42), Capuchino (34), Half Moon Bay (33) and Hillsdale (12) rounding out the top eight.
Mills’ Gayer continues torrid comeback
Mills senior Sarah Gayer continued to gain momentum towards a strong finish to her season after missing the first half due to injury. Gayer claimed two gold medals, first in the girls’ 1,600 with a season-best time of 5:07.13 then in the girls’ 3,200 with a 12:01.70.
“It’s starting to get exciting,” Mills head coach Tim Tuff said. “The injury is behind her and she’s getting back to where we through she could be.”
Capuchino junior Marli Bonney set a new program record in the girls’ 100 with a time of 12.43 seconds, just edging Hall of M-A who tabbed a 12.44.
“I knew it was going to be a really big fight,” Bonney said, who finished fourth in the event last year while contending with a hamstring strain. “I would have been grateful to place between third or fifth.”
In the girls’ 800, Half Moon Bay’s Kendall Mansukhani provided another strong freshman showing, claiming gold with a time of 2:19.63.
In the field events, Aragon junior Juliet Bost took gold in the girls’ pole vault with a height of 9 feet, 6 inches. In the girls’ long jump, Westmoor junior Miya Driscoll topped the field with a 16-4. In the girls’ triple jump, Hillsdale junior Kayla Burns took gold with a 32-9 1/2, winning via tiebreaker over Mills senior Mikayla Wong who topped out at the same distance.
M-A boys show off depth
It was admittedly less of a star-studded victory for M-A in the boys’ team competition, but a win nonetheless.
“It’s less of the star power and more of just depth,” Perry said.
M-A senior Terrance Matthews-Murphy was one of six Bears to claim silver on the day. Last week, in the boys’ discus finals, Matthews-Murphy claimed one of M-A’s three overall gold medals.
Matthews-Murphy had a disappointing showing in his two track events though, getting edged in the boys’ 100 by gold medalist David Prager, a senior from Aragon, by .04 seconds. Prager overtook Matthews-Murphy in the final 10 meters to record a personal record of 11.07 seconds, just topping Matthews-Murphy’s 11.13. Then in the boys’ 200, Matthews-Murphy was disqualified off the blocks, opening the door for Prager to claim gold with the PAL’s top time this season — and 10th in the CCS — of 22.49.
M-A’s other two boys’ gold medals were earned by senior Andrew Scoffone in the boys’ 110 hurdles with the PAL’s season-best 15.59 seconds; and senior Tate Tussing took first in the boys’ long jump with a 21-6, also a PAL season-best.
EC junior emerges in boys’ 400
El Camino junior Alex Abbas didn’t have to contend with Carlmont’s Ryan Wilson in the boys’ 400 meters. Wilson entered Saturday with the PAL’s season-best in the event at 50.59 seconds, but opted instead to run the 800 and 1,600 in the PAL meet.
Not only did Abbas take gold, he shattered the PAL season mark with a time of 50.19, also good for fifth-best in CCS.
“I feel like I could have gone faster,” Abbas said.
Wilson earned gold in both his individual events, taking first in the boys’ 800 in a time of 2:00.66. He also topped the field in the boys’ 1,600 with PAL season-best 4:22.47.
Wilson also anchored the boys’ 4x400 gold-medal performance as the team recorded a time of 3:30.24.
Sequoia’s boys’ 4x100 relay team of Jose Corpus, Eli Rodriguez, Sam Pedley and Ryan Reed took gold with a time of 44.96. Carlmont sophomore Justin Hsu took gold in the 3,200 with a 9:55.31. San Mateo junior Jacob Jeffries took gold in the boys’ 300 hurdles with a 41.10 — a PAL season-best.
In the day’s field events, Mills junior Jeremy Yee won the boys’ high jump with a height of 5-11. Burlingame senior Jimmy Escobar took gold in the boys’ pole vault with a 14-6. Sequoia junior Jose Corpus took gold in the boys’ triple jump with a 41-1 — a PAL season-best.
In the boys’ team scoring, the top eight were first-place M-A (107 points), second-place Sequoia (68), third-place Carlmont (65), Mills (58), Hillsdale (41), San Mateo (27), El Camino (24) and Aragon (23).