Conditions were perfect Saturday at Crystal Springs for the Central Coast Section Cross-Country Championships, and Gunn's Paul Summers took full advantage — running the race of his life to win the Division II title with a time of 14:41 on the 2.95-mile course.
It was the fastest time of the day among all divisions, tied for the eighth best all time and the fastest since 1985 at the storied Crystal Springs course. The senior beat defending champion Garrett Rowe of Mountain View (second in 14:52) and 2007 champ Philip MacQuitty of Palo Alto, who was edged for third by Mountain View's Ian Myjer (both had times of 15:03).
"I thought I had an outside shot at winning it," said Summers, who beat his previous best on the course by 20 seconds. "I knew I was strong on the hills, so I stuck with Garrett until Heartbreak Hill and made my move and never looked back. I was nervous because I know Garrett has a good kick, but I didn't hear the fans calling his name as we came in."
The Mountain View boys won their second consecutive Division II title with five runners finishing in the top 10, including Parker Schuh, who finished fifth in 15:16. Gunn finished second.
It was a banner day for the Mountain View team under coach Evan Smith, as the girls also rolled to a Division II team title with sophomore Allison Sturges winning the individual crown with a time of 18:00. Last season, Sturges missed the CCS meet with an injury, and she had been battling illness recently — finishing fourth in her league meet.
"Allison is a gamer; she loves to fight for the win," Smith said. "We thought we had three girls who could have won this race, and Allison attacked at the right time to pull it off."
Los Altos' Erin Hicks (18:18) finished second. Mountain View also had Martina De Geus (fourth in 18:22) and Zoe Pappas (eighth in 18:40) among the top 10.
The Gunn girls beat Carlmont to win the Division I crown, ending the Scots' run of four consecutive titles. Carlmont senior Jessie Petersen repeated as champion with the best time of the day in all divisions (17:28). Gunn was led by Erin Robinson, a junior in her first year of cross-country, who beat her previous best by 36 seconds with a time of 18:19. Kieran Gallagher (sixth in 18:45) and Claire O'Connell (seventh in 18:49) had big races for the Titans.
Pioneer senior Weston Strum showed off an impressive finishing kick to edge Aptos' Mitch Moriarty by two seconds to win the Division III boys race with a time of 14:58. Prospect's Bruk Assefa, who moved from Ethiopia a year ago, was third in 15:29.
Carlmont won its fifth consecutive Division I title, with Bellarmine College Prep finishing second. Salinas' David Perez (15:14) was first, followed by Carlmont teammates Benjamin Heck (15:26) and Nathan Lee (15:27). Dalton Guthrie (15:28) of Bellarmine was fourth.
Pioneer senior Weston Strum's closing kick to win the Central Coast Section Division 3 cross country championship was just like the course conditions at Crystal Springs on Nov. 14 — excellent.
By out-legging Mitchell Moriarty of Aptos to the finish line by two seconds, Strum posted the third fastest time of the day's 10 races, 14:58, and qualified for a return trip to the California State Cross Country Championships, Nov. 28 at Fresno's Woodward Park.
Nathan Strum was about a minute behind his twin brother on the twisting, 2.95-mile trail through the Belmont hills, but his 15:54 clocking was sixth fastest out of 93 runners and garnered one of five individual D-3 berths to the annual CIF event.
Several other area boys and girls earned repeat state runs, including Will Geiken, Katie Castro, Melissa Iarocci and Hannah Gustafson of Los Gatos, Melissa Hopper of Leigh, Luca Signore of Lynbrook, Karen Wai of Saratoga and Donald Plazola and Joseph Rivera of Willow Glen.
Castro, whose time of 18:37 edged Hopper and St. Francis sophomore Morgan Healy by one second for fifth place in the Division 2 girls race, and freshman Danielle Katz helped the Los Gatos girls finish second and advance to the state meet.
Other local team qualifiers to state were the boys from Bellarmine College Prep (D-1) and Willow Glen (D-3) and the girls of Valley Christian (D-3).
First-time individual qualifiers included Prospect senior Bruk Assefa, who placed third in D-3, and Leland's Richard Ho, who placed eighth in D-2 with the sixth fastest time ever by a freshman at Crystal Springs.
Division 1 boys
By finishing fifth out of 123 runners, Monta Vista sophomore Kevin Bishop (15:30) qualified as one of five individuals to next week's CIF state meet.
David Perez, a Salinas senior, won the race in 15:14. Carlmont was the best team, followed by Bellarmine, which had six runners among the top 20. Senior Dalton Guthrie's fourth-place finish (15:28) and junior Tony Ferrari's eighth-place effort (15:41) paced the Bells.
Monta Vista placed fifth out of 16 teams. Senior Kranti Peddada ran 16:31 for 34th, but did not earn a return trip to state. Other Matadors runners were senior Peter Feng (46th), sophomore Arif Hasan (48th) and seniors Alex Cheng (59th), Dan Esparza (75th) and Hiro Okajima (76th).
Division 1 girls
Carlmont junior Jessie Peterson ran away with the race, clocking 17:28 and finishing 51 seconds ahead of the runner-up. Her time ranks 16th all-time among girls performances at Crystal Springs. Fremont freshman Heather Rohrer (19:55) had an impressive first run at CCS, taking 23rd in a field of 93.
In team scoring, Gunn and Carlmont finished one-two, earning berths to the state meet. Monta Vista placed seventh out of 12 teams, as seniors Christine Chang and Kelli Sum paced the Matadors. Chang's 34th place finish in 20:21 was six seconds and two places ahead of Sum. Freshman teammate Serena Alsukhon crossed the finish in 43rd at 20:40, sophomore Shana Rubin 53rd in 21:04 and senior Aditi Krishnapriyan 56th in 21:12. Rounding out the team, one second and one place apart, were freshmen Mali Mecker (21:37) in 62nd and Catalina Huang.
Division 2 boys
Gunn senior Paul Summers won the race in 14:41, the eighth best time in Crystal Springs course history. Lynbrook's Signore (15:24) was sixth out of 111 runners, followed by Los Gatos' Geiken (15:28) and Leland's Ho (15:35).
SCVAL teams Mountain View, Gunn and Palo Alto were the top three teams and qualified for the state meet. Lynbrook just missed a trip to state, placing fourth out of 15 teams. Los Gatos was seventh, St. Francis eighth, Cupertino ninth, Leigh 10th and Leland 15th.
While Signore won a state bid for the second year in a row, six Lynbrook teammates were disappointed, including seniors Varun Pemmaraju (16:21) in 23rd, Amrit Subramanian (16:57) in 50th and Ryan Dibiase in 63rd, sophomores Andrew Kuo (16:36) in 31st and Jason Jin (17:00) in 51st, and junior Alvin Chang (18:14) in 87th.
Division 2 girls
Led by winner Allison Sturges (18:00), Mountain View had three girls in the top 10 and claimed the team title with 46 points, well ahead of runner-up Los Gatos' total of 93.
The Wildcats had two in the top 10, as Castro ran 18:37 for fifth and Katz was eight seconds back in ninth place.
St. Francis, paced by sophomores Healy and Maddy Roemer (31t) and junior Emily Sitler (35th), earned the third team berth to state with 167 points, edging fourth-place Presentation by six points and fifth-place Leigh by eight. Lynbrook placed sixth out of 15 teams, followed closely by Leland and Archbishop Mitty.
Leigh's Melissa Hopper, who won the Blossom Valley Athletic League championship on the same course 12 days earlier, trimmed 14 seconds off her time to claim sixth place and a repeat run at state. Leland freshman Alyssa Johnson (18:55) and Westmont sophomore Abby Blake (18:58) placed 10th and 11th, respectively, to win the last two individual state spots.
Several other local runners finished in the top 20 of the 117-runner race, but did not qualify for the state meet. Leigh freshman Michelle Poquette (19:02) was 13th, followed by Leland senior Claudia Barnett (19:05), Mitty junior Mark Kriege (19:06) and Prez sophomore Laura Vazquez (19:09). Angie Korpusik, a Prez junior, was 19th in 19:15, three seconds better than Lynbrook junior Cindy Huang.
Two of Huang's teammates were among the next eight finishers, freshman Shaelyn Silverman (19:31) in 23rd and senior Michelle Yee (19:46) in 28th. Other contributors to Lynbrook's sixth-place team finish were seniors Chianna Wang and Kristen Bryson, sophomore Vivian Chan and junior Lauren Tang.
While Blake earned her first trip to state for Westmont, she was not the only Warrior runner in competition. She was joined by junior Cynthia Loyaza, sophomores Anessa Gaur, Linsey Ploshay, Kaylan Madson and Christina Winn and senior Pamela Phan.
Division 3 boys
While the Strum brothers and Assefa qualified for state with outstanding individual effort, Willow Glen beat Pioneer for the fourth and final team berth with five runners among the first 40 finishers.
Prospect's Grant Foster, who qualified for state last year as a freshman, just missed a repeat trip. The talented sophomore finished 15th in 16:21. Other Panthers finishers were junior Nick Cotter (17:42), senior Rishard Correa-Sori (17:54), freshman Ryan Ernst (17:57), junior Matt Kriege (18:05) and senior Paul Correa-Sorich (19:22).
Juniors Kyle Fukui and Garrick Chan led a young Saratoga team at CCS. With no seniors in their line-up, the Falcons finished 11th in the team competition. Fukui ran 16:50 to earn 26th place, while Chan ran 17:25 for 42nd. The other`Toga runners were freshmen David Zarrin and Aasim Naqual, sophomores Eren Veziroglu and Lawrence Lian and junior Stephen Louie.
Division 3 girls
Led by senior Karen Wai and freshman Courtney Shlossaresk, Saratoga finished fifth out of 13 teams, just six points behind Sacred Heart Cathedral for the final state slot.
Wai (19:26) repeated as a state qualifier, placing 10th. Schlossaresk, who ran 19:36 for 12th, finished only two seconds behind Willow Glen senior Kristina Rivera, who snagged the last qualifying spot.
Two other Falcons finished among the top 35 out of 99 runners. Sophomore Emily Williams ran 20:22 for 26th and freshman Caroline Chou ran 20:51 for 35th. Other Saratoga team members were juniors Hannah Harter and Mansie Cheung and sophomore Kristine Johnston.
Running one second apart, Prospect juniors Dominique Guinnane (19:48) and Nicole Ellis placed 16th and 17th, leading their team to a seventh-place finish. The rest of the Panthers were junior Alexa Torres, sophomores Stephanie Schindler and Natasha Flowers and freshman Emma Barraza.
Division 4 girls
Senior Kelsey Hilbrich of Harker and junior Amy Wright of The King's Academy claimed two of the five individual qualifier spots in the state line-up. Hilbrich placed third in 18:53, trailing winner Nina Anderson of Notre Dame-Salinas by 37 seconds. Wright finished 11th in 19:28, edging junior teammate Christa Green (13th) for the final qualifying spot by 14 seconds.