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Underclassman athletes excel at state level

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Sarah Robinson

From winning the Central Coast Section (CCS) Cross Championships to placing third at the California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships, sophomore Sarah Robinson has excelled in running cross country for the Gunn team. Having only participated in the sport since her freshman year, Robinson has accomplished a lot in just two seasons.

Robinson became interested in joining the team when her sister, alumna Erin Robinson, persuaded her to try out for the sport. Before that, soccer was her main sport. According to Robinson, soccer and cross country go well together. “Soccer helps me strengthen my fitness for cross country and cross country helps maintain my fitness for soccer,” she said. “I am glad that I can do both.”

By doing two sports, Robinson is better prepared for meets. During the season, Robinson trains by doing two workouts a week, normally on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During workouts the team normally does intervals. For example, sometimes they will do mile repeats and other times they will do intervals around Bol Park. Some of the workouts consist of shorter intervals like 800 meter repeats. The rest of the week she will go on runs by herself.

The hard work she put into training paid off and her endurance helped her do well at many meets. This season, Robinson won the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) Baylands meet, where she ran a 2.95 mile in a record time of 18:31. From then on, Robinson was on a roll. She performed extremely well at the League Championships, where the varsity girls placed second overall. Robinson won the race in 17:32, the second fastest time of any Gunn girl, after Tori Tyler in 2005. In addition, Robinson won CCS with a time of 17:12, the second fastest time for any sophomore girl runner. She advanced to the State Meet, where she placed third in the Division I race with a time of 17:56.

Her placement at the State Meet allowed her to compete at the Foot Locker West Regionals on Dec. 3. Her fourth place finish at the State Meet qualified her for the Footlocker Nationals, the most prestigious high school cross country race in the United States. However, because of other commitments, Robinson will not be competing.

From placing 68th at last year’s California State Meet with a time of 18:59 to placing third at this year’s state meet with a time of 17:56, Robinson has improved an incredible amount, according to coach Matthew Tompkins. “She went from being one of the top runners in CCS to being one of the top runners in the state of California,” he said.

Even though she has been running cross country for fewer than two years, Robinson has already learned a lot from the sport. “I’ve learned that in order to pursue your goals, it takes a ton of hard work and patience,” she said. “To improve, you need to have a good work-rate and have patience.” Robinson’s goals for next season are to win CCS and then place higher at the State Meet.

Anna Zhou

Freshman Anna Zhou has accomplished a feat no other girl at Gunn has: becoming the first girl golfer to qualify for a state tournament. Since the age of nine, when her father brought her  to a golf course for the first time, Zhou has had many achievements in the sport. According to Zhou, her greatest accomplishments were tying for 18th place at the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships and winning the Junior Golf Association of the Northern California Match Play Championships.

To maintain her solid record, this season Zhou tied for second at the girls’ CCS Championships in Carmel Valley on Nov. 1, which allowed her to advance to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) NorCal Regional Championships at Stanford on Nov. 7. Playing against the top 88 high school girls from all of Northern California, Zhou ended up in a four-way tie for second place, so the four players competed for the silver and bronze medals. Zhou ended up with fourth place, qualifying for the CIF State High School Girls’ Championships at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach on Nov. 15. Zhou capped off her productive season with a tie for sixth place.

According to Zhou, she feels honored and excited to play with other players in California. “I am proud to have represented Gunn at States,” she said. Because of her performance at CCS, Zhou received an honorable mention as one of the athletes of the week from the Palo Alto Weekly on Nov. 18.

After attending numerous tournaments, Zhou has learned a lot from playing golf and more about herself. “Golf has taught me to become independent, more focused and to contain my emotions so they don’t get in the way,” she said. Her goal for next season is to win or at least be in the top three at state. She will most likely play with the boys’ golf team in the spring.

—Compiled by Emily Yao

Andy Zhou

Freshman Andy Zhou (no relation to Anna) has accomplished much in tennis.  His progress throughout the years has brought him prestigious awards such as winning the Santa Clara District for Leaderboard Northern California (NorCal). He was also one of the semifinalists for NorCal Sectionals. Zhou’s dedication ultimately led him to a third place finish in NorCal Singles Division.

Zhou has been involved in tennis for much of his life and credits his motivation to play to his role models Roger Federer and his father, a tennis player.  According to Zhou, making time for tennis is not a problem. “Tennis is a really fun sport to play and it really fits me,” Zhou said. “I like it a lot.”

He first began playing tennis at a young age when his parents signed him up for lessons. Zhou immediately fell in love with the game, and hasn’t stopped playing since. According to Zhou, having a positive outlook on the game is very important. “Practice hard when you play matches, don’t get too stressed about winning or losing,” Zhou said.

For Zhou, the best part of playing tennis is being able to win and achieve his goals, something he calls, “playing over the limit.” The worst part for Zhou is playing “below your level,” or losing to someone ranking lower.

Tennis is a large commitment that takes up much of Zhou’s social life. “A lot of the time on weekends when other people get to be hanging out and watching movies, I have to be somewhere far away playing tennis,” Zhou said. Still, Zhou enjoys playing tennis and hopes to keep on playing in the future. “I hope to be able to use my tennis to get into a good school, maybe Stanford or something, and maybe play for their team,” Zhou said. “Hopefully [I will] also be able to go pro.”

—Compiled by Wayland Fong

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Underclassman athletes excel at state level