Lynbrook track coach Darrin Garcia had good reason to be optimistic about the potential of his boys relay teams. The Vikings are relying on juniors who were successful at the junior varsity level and aspire to reach the state meet.
But even Garcia couldn't foresee the times his relay teams would run early this season. Lynbrook, with three juniors and a senior running track for the first time, owns the Central Coast Section's season-best times in both relays.
``I think we've pretty much surprised everyone,'' Garcia said. ``The kids are the only ones not surprised. Every week they talk about running faster.''
Garcia said the 1,600-meter relay might be the Vikings' stronger event, partly because his athletes are more suited to running the 400 than the sprints. (Garcia has spent most of the year training his athletes to be quarter-milers.)
The 1,600 team of juniors Chris Deal, Durrell Roberts, Taimur Khan and senior Chris Bencomo (his first track season) delivered a breakthrough performance at the Stanford Invitational last month, placing second in 3 minutes, 25.5 seconds.
``I was happy to get them in that type of environment,'' Garcia said. ``They really took the atmosphere and ran with it.''
But the Vikings also got a taste of top-flight competition at the K-Bell Invitational, where they placed third behind Bellarmine and Serra. Lynbrook led most of the race but was passed by both anchors with about 15 meters to go.
Garcia said the experience will be a plus.
``It showed them they can compete with whomever,'' Garcia said. ``Bellarmine's league is unbelievable.''
Ultimately, the Vikings want to contend for a section title and reach the state meet. Garcia is trying to keep their attention on getting faster and breaking the school's 20-year-old record of 3:21.8. Garcia expects all eight finalists at the CCS meet to run below 3:25, which means his athletes need to forget about their status as the section's fastest relay team.
``All those kids are tough enough that their 400 times all could improve,'' Garcia said. ``They talk about it all the time. They're waiting for that race to do something really special.''
MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Oak Grove seniors Veronica Walker and Eileen Frampton are among the section's top sprinters and have also helped the Eagles post top times in both relays.
Walker owns the section's No. 1 time in the 100 (12.31 seconds) and second-best time in the 200 (26.34). Frampton is second in the 100 and 400 and fifth in the 200. Both run legs on the Eagles' 400 relay team, whose 49.48 is second best in the section, behind Carlmont's 49.47.
``They've been with me for four years and every year we set goals,'' Oak Grove Coach Allen Wulczynski said. ``We've been attaining those goals, and this year it's for them to dedicate themselves and contend for a CCS championship.''
BASEBALL: Los Gatos (7-6, 4-3) climbed back into the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division race by beating Palo Alto and Wilcox last week, giving each team its first league loss.
Senior Alex Rollin (5-2) allowed five hits and pitched an eight-inning complete game in the Wildcats' 4-3 victory over Wilcox (11-4, 5-1). Rollin earned a save in Los Gatos' 6-4 victory over Palo Alto. Senior catcher Travis Howell had a two-run home run and two RBIs in the victory over Wilcox.
Live Oak's Ryan Muller (6-1) struck out nine and allowed just three hits in the Acorns' 9-0 victory over Palma on Thursday. Muller, who is headed to USF on a baseball scholarship, also had three hits in the victory.
SOFTBALL: Los Altos pitcher Alyce Jorgensen kept the Eagles atop the SCVAL De Anza Division standings with victories over Monta Vista and Los Gatos last week. The junior struck out seven and allowed four hits in Los Altos' 4-3 victory over Monta Vista on Thursday and gave up three hits in a 4-1 victory over Los Gatos.
Jorgensen (11-3) also delivered a one-hit, eight-strikeout performance in Los Altos' 7-0 victory over Soquel in the Wilcox Tournament at Mission College on Friday and allowed three hits in a 3-2 loss to Presentation on Saturday.