The Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep boys' track and field teams have been competing on the same day all season long, yet the two squads never faced each other.
The Gators most often hosted one half of the West Bay Athletic League while the Knights hosted the other half. Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo both went 4-0 during the regular season.
One team, however, will lose for the first time when the WBAL Championships are held Thursday at College of San Mateo beginning at 4 p.m.
Both teams have plenty of first-place points and depth. At the WBAL trials on Saturday, Matt Walter SHP was the No. 1 qualifier in the 100 (11.07) and 200 (22.95), Greg Hook led the 400 in 52.02, Chris Gaertner led all long jumpers at 20-6 and John Oppenheimer paced the shot put with a mark of 44-0 3/4.
Menlo was led by junior Sam Parker, who was second in the 400 (52.14), fourth in the 800 (2:05.14) and eighth in the 1600 (4:58.71). He also runs on the 1600 relay. Other big point scorers for the Knights should be Lowry Yankwich (400), Max Parker (100 and 400), Jordan Williams (long jump and 300 hurdles), and Alec Lawler (110 HH and 300 IH).
The team that could decide whether SHP or Menlo wins should be Priory, which is led by versatile junior Arnaud Kpachavi. He, along with Menlo's Sam Parker, have been battling each other all season long and should continue that rivalry on Thursday.
Kpachavi qualified No. 3 in the 1600 (4:53.09), No. 3 in the 400 (52.28) and No. 2 in the 800 (2:04.33). Kpachavi had run 1:55.55 in the 800 this season. Priory teammate Tommy Shields also could break up the SHP-Menlo domination in the 300 hurdles (he qualified No. 1 at 44.44).
Lawrence Van Hook of Eastside Prep is among the league's top sprinters in the 100 and 200 and also could help decide which team ends up winning the title.
If Sacred Heart Prep has an edge, it will be in the field events with Gaertner, Oppenheimer, Nico Robinson and Michael Ho. All four rank ahead of Menlo athletes in their respective events.
In the girls' meet, the showdown between Priory and Castilleja will be tested by the addition of Pinewood senior sprinter Angela Gradiska. Sidelined most of the season by a foot injury, Gradiska showed her fitness by being the top qualifier in the 100 (12.18) and 200 (25.23). She now ranks No. 2 in the Central Coast Section in the 100 and No. 4 in the 200, where she finished second in the state last season.
With Gradiska evidently healthy, those events are a given for her. That leaves the middle distances and distances for the Priory and Castilleja runners.
Priory sophomore Kat Gregory was the No. qualifier in the 1600 (5:21.81) while Castilleja junior Rachel Skokowski was No. 1 in the 800 (2:24.10) and No. 2 in the 1600 (5:27.54).
Priory's Eugenia Jernick led the way in the 100 hurdles (17.72) while Castilleja's Claire Fraisl was No. 1 in the 400 (1:00.43). Pinewood junior Miranda Seto will battle Jernick in the 300 hurdles, where Seto was the No. 1 qualifier (51.45) and Jernick was No. 2 (51.87).
Castilleja looks to gain an edge in the field events with Claire O'Malley (long jump), and Caitlin Colvin (high jump) should do well.