Inland Empire Championships: Where CIF Stars Shine

RUNNING EVENTS PREVIEW

(listed in schedule order; note: meet records listed are the best all-conditions marks without regard to wind readings)











Girls 3,200 Meters

Meet Record: Destiny Collins (Great Oak) 10:46.94 (2014)    

With the cooler temps prevalent in the morning air, we begin the meet with the Varsity Girls 3,200 meters.   While some of Great Oak's national class distance runners rest up this weekend, Yucaipa sophomore Danielle Gee has also dipped under that coveted 11 minutes.  Taking 2nd place this past XC season in Div. I as a team, Vista Murrieta's senior duo of Annabelle Werner (11:07) and Nadine Dubon (11:11) will flirt with that 11 minute threshold while Serrano's Vanessa Walton (11:14) will stay on their shoulders all throughout.  Big Bear junior Kaia Hoak (11:17) was a Div. IV CIF Finalist a year ago.  Murrieta Valley senior Arabella Reece (11:17), Shadow Hills' junior Nyah Chavez along with Roosevelt's Paloma Barron (11:20) will all be right there in that chase pack behind our race favorite.  Reece (5:07) has shown considerable improvement in the 1600 and will look to steal the show here in the 3200.    We have a huge group all coming in with 11:25-11:35 credentials that will also be pushing for those medals.  


Boys 3200 Meters

Meet Record: Spencer Dodds (Great Oak) 9:02.30  (2016)

The IEC has been blessed the past two seasons with opening the meet up with a 9:02 meet record back in 2016, only to see seven boys all finish within the 9:15-9:25 window a year ago.  With our 2018 version having a lot to live up to, Vista Murrieta's Edgard Villa will look to defend his home turf.  The senior qualified for the Cross Country state meet this past Fall while also possessing sub-4:20 speed for the 1600.  The Vista Murrieta senior is the only one coming with 9:20 credentials and will have to be at his best in May to advance onward in the postseason.  Shadow Hills' senior Isaiah Gonzalez (9:37) along with the Etiwanda's Ivan Mejia and Valley View's Juan Nunez, both juniors, will lead the charge in working to use Villa dip under 9:30.  


Girls 400 Relay

Meet record: Rancho Verde 46.32 (2007)

We suspected that Upland has something special brewing in the preseason, but last weekend cemented that.  Led by senior Jada Hicks, Upland erupted for a 45.78 clocking at the Arcadia Invitational.  This is now #3 in the United States and #1 in California by almost a full second!  Even with their 'B' team, Upland has posted a 46.54.  So, watch out for that meet record!  Murrieta Mesa has emerged as one of the best 4x100 Relay squads in Southern California.  Their 48.19 on this same track three weeks ago has the crew ranked #9 in the Southern Section.  Junior Chioma Okonkwo will lead the Rams.  Our defending champions, the Mya Greene-led group from Carter came home with a 48.65 last month.  Bolstered by Deja and Mariah Allain, La Sierra recorded a 49.44 at the California Relays last month.  With several squads splitting their 'A' teams up between the varsity and F/S levels, Citrus Valley has run to a 49.59 while Great Oak, Oak Hills, and Vista Murrieta will all be right there fighting behind our two favorites.  

Boys 400 Relay

Meet record: Rancho Verde 40.74 (2017)  

The Inland Empire owns seven of the top nine 4x100 relay squads in the Southern Section!  With memories of the last two post seasons in their minds as motivation, Rancho Verde waited until the Arcadia Invite to reveal their true arsenal.  Their 41.49 clocking is now #1 in California and just off the Riverside County all-time Top 10 list.  But, right on their outside, Murrieta Mesa has emerged as one of the best in the state as well.  The Christian Shakir-led 41.67 effort last weekend now has them at #3 in the state.  But with one hiccup in exchanges, Yucaipa anchor Asani Hampton (42.09) will take advantage and bring home the victory.  With Yucaipa ranked #6 in the Southern Section, Great Oak, Etiwanda and Vista Murrieta have also dipped under 42.40 this season as a 42.92 was the last to qualify into this elite session.  This is just a preview of what we have in store for the individual boys' sprints later!

Girls 100 Hurdles

Meet Record: Jordie Munford (Rancho Cucamonga) 13.96 (2011)

We have a slew of California's best loaded in the middle of the track for this affair.   The Inland Empire boasts four of the top five in the Southern Section this season.  Temecula Valley's Danae Dyer took 3rd at the Arcadia Invite with a new personal best of 13.68.  This elevates her to #2 in California and now ahead of Roosevelt's Breanna Bernard Joseph (14.02 this season).  Dyer has been a state meet finalist the past two seasons while BBJ finished ahead of her in last year's finale.  Not so much in their shadows anymore, Carter senior Mya Greene brought home a 14.20 from Arcadia and now owns the #5 wind-legal time in the state.  Even with Upland's Jada Hicks sitting this out, Upland is #1 in the United States in the Shuttle Hurdles for a reason as freshman Jordyn Grady along with senior Kennedy Smith makes up half that crew.  Grady produced a 14.64 wind-legal effort at Arcadia last weekend while Smith brought home a 15.02 (two wind-aided efforts under 14.90 this season).  ML King senior Sarah Ann Frank broke that coveted 15 second barrier several weeks ago while Carter's Mariah Stewart has recorded a 15.05 wind-aided effort at the Mt. Carmel Invite last month.  This is THE most loaded girls' event on the docket for the 2018 IEC.  

Boys 110 Hurdles

Meet Record: Torrey Atkins (Heritage) 14.13 (2014)

This race is wide open in regard to our favorites.  With the 110 Hurdles being down across the section this season, Vista del Lago's Jaden Ellis (14.98) and Roosevelt's Lucas Anotado (14.96) lead the way here.  Anotado has experienced the most improvement of any boy in the area.  ML King junior Reyte Rash continues to improve, coming in with a 15.10 wind legal best while San Jacinto's junior Wayne Thomas impressed two weeks ago for a 15.20w breakthrough.  Don't be surprised to see Silverado's Derek Porter in the mix up front as well.  Porter is coming off an impressive 15.17 into a -2.4 wind.  Perhaps, a sleeper here is Yucaipa's Patrick Cundieff who ran to a 15.37w personal best at Arcadia last weekend.   Citrus Valley junior Josh Hannah is coming off a 15.46 as well.  In that F/S division, watch for Vista Murrieta's Hunter Escorcia.  His 14.78 is currently the #2 all-conditions mark in the Southern Section as he is looking to set a new F/S meet record.  


Girls 400 Meters

Meet Record: Jade Miller (Great Oak) 55.06 (2013)

One of the marquee events on tap for our women, the Citrus Valley duo of freshman Cieanna Norman-Thomas and senior Kyrah Johnson may turn this into another 56 second training session.  Norman-Thomas is California's top 9th grader (56.25) and 5th in all of California.  Johnson rolled to a 56.57 at Arcadia and moved up to #10 in the Southern Section.  Meanwhile, focusing on the 400 this weekend, Riverside Poly's Kalea Ibarra has consistently clocked under 58 all season while Palm Springs' junior Lilliana Chalfant moved up with a 57.89 victory at the Beaumont Invite three weeks ago.  Watch for Murrieta Mesa junior Chioma Okonkwo, who usually focuses on the 100/200 double, but is taking that 57.4 split from a relay onto the open track.  Defending River Valley League champ, Deja Allain of La Sierra comes in with a 57.97 personal best.  Finally, Norco's Taylor Shorter and Corona's Jazmin Lucatero will renew their battle from their dual meet where Shorter prevailed, 58.15 to 58.16.  We could very see that our seeded section may also have the entire field breaking 60 seconds.   

Boys 400 Meters

Meet Record: Connor Edwards (Chaparral) 47.58 (2016)

With a 5th place medal from last year's California State Meet, Vista Murrieta senior Parris Samaniego (Pat Rhames photo at the top) s the favorite.  In breaking 48 seconds four times over the last three weeks of the 2017 season, he was the Div. I CIF runner-up and currently #6 in California and #3 in the section.  His 48.10 seasonal improvement from Arcadia last weekend leads one to believe that the meet record could be in jeopardy.  Two of the section's best juniors will look to pull the upset are Roosevelt's Jalen Johnson (48.61) and Centennial's Gregory Lapit (48.82 last weekend) They are #7 and #9 in the section, respectively.  Beyond those three, it is a wide open affair.  Oak Hills' Darren Hill is coming back from injury after a huge breakthrough season in 2017.  In placing 3rd at the SS-Div. II Finals, his 48.45 eventually led him to the State Championship meet where he is looking to return over these last seven weeks of the season.  One of the best 10th grade athletes in California, Upland's Namir Hemphill is fresh off a 49.51 two weeks ago at the Trabuco Hills Invite.  Not only is he the #2 sophomore in the state for the 400, he is also one of the section's best Triple Jumpers.  Colony's Bradley Rainford and La Sierra sophomore Donovan Nelson are all seeking to break 50 seconds behind the jet setters.  Also watch for Temecula Valley's Ezekiel Armstrong (50.10 in 2017), who qualified under the at-large standard to the Division I prelims a year ago.


Girls 1600 Meters

Meet Record: Destiny Collins (Great Oak) 4:48.90 (2016)

We go into this event convinced that the meet record will remain for quite some time.  With that said, we have a slew of women looking to go under 5:10!  As the nationally ranked women of Great Oak rest up from the last three weekends, Vista Murrieta senior Annabelle Werner.  Werner has gone under 5:11 this season but qualified under the at-large standard from Southwestern League in 2017 with a personal best in 5:02.92.  Wisely putting softball aside and in her first year of Track, Roosevelt junior Miranda Camargo is coming off a huge 5:10 and 5:08 splits on her squad's relays at Arcadia last weekend.  Yucaipa sophomore Danielle Gee is coming off a 5:12 effort several weeks ago.  Continuing to impress, Santiago junior Samantha Velazquez threw down a ten second personal best of 5:12.48 victory against ML King two weeks ago.  Redlands' Chelsey Romo (5:14.64) Vista Murrieta's Nadine Dubon (5:08.53 in '17), Great Oak's Katya Candray (5:15.30 but yet #7 on her team), Murrieta Valley's Caitlin Billman (5:14.30 in '17) will be right up front as well.   Vista Murrieta junior Peyton Candaele is finally healthy and ready to roll with our headliners while watch for Colony freshman Amber Rios.  Rios posted a 5:17.30 last weekend after coming off an incredible inaugural campaign where she one of the top freshmen in the state.  (8th place finish at the SS-Div. II finals and 11th place finish at the State Championships).  In that Frosh/Soph race, Vista Murrieta's Makayla Fick (5:10.96) is the heavy favorite.


Boys 1600 Meters

Meet Record: Ruben Ramirez (Don Lugo) 4:14.74 (2004)

One of our oldest meet records may stand for yet, another year.  But we do not doubt that Vista Murrieta's Edgard Villa, Roosevelt's Raymon Ornelas or Rubidoux junior Kevin Ramos will be going after it!  A SS-Div. I Finalist a year ago in the 1600 (4:17.15), Villa rolled to a 4:19.16 several weeks ago.  With improved leg speed this season, Ornelas has been one of the best in California breaking 4:20 on multiple occasions this season.  Ramos, one of the top Cross Country athletes in California, has a personal best of 4:21.82 while Centennial senior and UC-Berkeley bound Trevor Woodward comes in with a 4:22.77.  Woodward and Ramos, along with Ornelas would like to use this 1600 to put behind the disappointment in the 3200 meters last weekend.  Meanwhile, Great Oak junior Noah Nevens (4:21.15) and sophomore Chris Verdugo (4:21.42/4:23.51 for the full mile last weekend) are looking to make it four boys for Great Oak under 4:20 this season (six have gone under 4:22!).  Seniors with two of the most impressive resumes in the region are also joining the party.  Roosevelt's Tyler Spencer is looking to find that form that led him to the 2017 California State Meet in the 3200 meters while Footlocker National XC finalist, Darius Riley of Rancho Cucamonga, wants to add a sub-4:20 effort to go along with his 9:12 best in the 3200 from three weeks ago.  Roosevelt sophomore Raul Chavez is the strong favorite in the Frosh/Soph race, especially after his 4:23 effort for the full mile at the Rising Stars Arcadia Mile last weekend.


Girls 100 Meters

Meet Record: Eboni Sutherland (Centennial) 11.81 (2013)

Temecula Valley senior Danae Dyer (Frank Bellino photo above) has been on a roll as of late!   After working to win the 100 Hurdles, Dyer will be back here to improve upon her 11.98 best for the open 100.   Defending Desert Valley League champion, senior Haley Murdica (11.97) of Palm Desert has impressed us with consistency.  Murdica is currently #5 in the section while Dyer and her 11.98 best is currently #7.   But, do not get too far away from the fact that La Sierra senior Mariah Allain will be right there to defend her 2017 IEC title.  In taking 2nd place in Div. III, Allain qualified for the Southern Section Masters Meet a year ago.  Those three have the credentials to push one another under 12, while the rest of the field will be led by Carter's A'Nysti Reece along with the Upland duo of Kennedy Smith and Amya Small.  


Boys 100 Meters

Meet Record: Michael Norman (Vista Murrieta) 10.28 (2016)  

With everybody in place, this event could be a deeper field than we what witnessed in 2017 where three of the top four boys at the California State Meet were our top three here at the IEC (top six from the Division I SS Finals)!   Yucaipa senior and Michigan bound Asani Hampton continues to be the standard within the state.  Currently ranked #1 in California, Hampton took 4th in 2017 and 6th the year before as a sophomore.  Coming off a stellar 3rd place, 10.47 effort at Arcadia, he is ready to claim the IEC title.  But, he will have company.  In leading Gahr High to 2nd place in the 4x100 relay at the 2017 State Meet, senior Christian Shakir Ricks has made a new home at Murrieta Mesa.  He rolled to a 10.57on this same track last month and is #2 in California!  The IE graduates the top two in California and replaces them the very next year.  Shakir's teammate, Matthew Okonkwo (10.79) will rest from the 400 (47.65 #1 in section) this weekend and focus on the 100.  Elsinore junior Kamari Maddox are coming off 10.84 efforts at the Arcadia Invite.  Both are now just outside the top ten in the section.  Vista Murrieta's Myles Martin posted a (10.84w) last month while Ontario Christian's Nolan Crespo rolled to a wind aided 10.86 at the Trabuco Hills Invite and is now one of the favorites to challenge for the Div. IV title next month.  This is the most competitive all California only field for the 100 meters in the state this season as a wind legal 10.93 did NOT qualify into the fastest heat!  Can't get enough......  San Gorgonio sophomore Lorenzo McMillan will threaten Hampton's Frosh/Soph record from 2016 as he has already dipped below 10.80 this season! 


Girls 300 Hurdles

Meet Record: Breanna Bernard-Joseph (Roosevelt) 42.43 (2016)

Lacing it up for the final time, Roosevelt senior and USC bound Breanna Bernard Joseph (Eric Taylor photo above) will look to bring home the victory and improve upon her own meet record.  She has been the state finalist the last two seasons and is currently #2 in California.  She is also the defending Div. I champion. Carter senior Mya Greene continues to move up that ladder as her 43.57 from the Trabuco Hills Invite places her as #9 in the state and #6 in the section.  One of the reasons why Upland is expected to score so well during next month's postseason lies here in the 300 Hurdles.  Freshman Jordyn Grady raced to a 43.73 last weekend while Chelsea Daye has clocked a 44.46.  Those marks are #7 and #9 in the section.  Great Oak will look push that Upland crew in May as junior Kolonnie Green may play a huge role.  She has run a 45.11 this season which finds her at #11 in the section.  ML King's Sarah Ann Frank, San Jacinto's Payton McCartney and Heritage's Kaleigh Giannone have all crossed the line under 46 seconds this Spring and all within the top 20 in the Southern Section.  Watch for Upland sophomore DeMia January in that Frosh/Soph division as she looks to regain that form that saw her qualify for the Div. I CIF Finals last year.  


Boys 300 Hurdles

Meet Record: Cameron Samuel (Rancho Verde) 37.47 (2017)  

With Upland junior Caleb Roberson (38.22  SS #2, CA #3)  taking this weekend off, the favorites fall into the legs of Big VIII League rivals in ML King junior Reyte Rash and Roosevelt senior Lucas Anotado.   Rash's 38.75 is currently #5 in the Southern Section while Anotado is #8.  But, right on their heels is Silverado's Derek Porter (39.29) and Murrieta Mesa's Daniel Browne, both #9 and #10 in the section.   Coming from the Citrus Belt League, Yucaipa's Patrick Cundieff (39.62 in '17) and Citrus Valley junior Josh Hannah (39.19) will look to break 40 seconds this season for the first time.  Along with Silverado's Porter, Hannah was a SS Div. II Finalist last year and CBL runner up.  Last year's meet record holder went on to capture that California state championship, but it looks to remain for another year.  On the Frosh/Soph level, Vista Murrieta's Hunter Escorcia (40.04) is within striking range of that F/S meet record. 

Girls 800 Meters

Meet Record: Megan Huebner (La Quinta) 2:13.32 (2014)

Roosevelt junior Alexys Ford continues to be a model of consistency as she has clocked between 2:15 and 2:18 every race this season and the last THIRTEEN attempts at this distance in an invitational.  In anchoring her squad to a huge school record in the 4x800 Relay last weekend, her split was under 2:15 so perhaps, this weekend will be the time for a new personal best.  She is currently #6 in the Southern Section.  Fellow Big VIII rivals, Centennial senior Rylee Penn and Santiago's Cayla Etheridge will try to keep up with Ford's speed (57.7 for the 400).  Penn is the three time Big VIII League Champ to go along with also qualifying for the Southern Section Masters Meet all three seasons as well.  As Penn continues to work her way towards another great postseason, Vista Murrieta junior Peyton Candaele opened the season up with a 2:20 and now healthy to go after our favorites.  Vista del Lago junior Andrea Delgado is also gearing for another successful postseason run as she was a SS Div. II Finalist in 2017 for the 400.   Perhaps the sleeper of the group is Great Oak senior Ericka Burgess.  She is the fourth element in that national leading 4x800 Relay squad and comes in with a 2:20 best.  Vista Murrieta sophomore Makayla Fick is currently #8 in the section but is looking to break the meet record (held by Ford) for the F/S division.  


Boys 800 Meters

Meet Record: Jeremiah Bias (Vista del Lago) 1:53.40 2014

This could be a group of wild horses, uh, Mustangs and Broncos up front when it's all said and done.  Roosevelt senior Taylor Jackson, part of his state ranked 4x400 relay squad, is one of California's best with a 1:53.21.  He is currently #2 in California, #1 in the section while also possessing a 49.06 for the 400 meters. The long strides of Jackson will look to hold off the likes of Vista Murrieta junior Willie Coleman (1:57) and the Rancho Verde pair in junior Trevor Nguru and senior Humberto Gonzalez (both under 1:58).  As the #2 sophomore half milers in the state, Upland's Hassani Hawkins rolled to a 1:56.86 two weeks ago.   Almost the entire field comes in with sub 2:00 minute resumes and will be a close race beyond our favorite Jackson.  Six others have dipped below 1:59. Corona junior Israel Echeverria, Indio senior Jose Morales and the junior from Yucaipa, Isaac Ganly are all entered at 1:58.4.  The endurance skills of Centennial's Trevor Woodward and Rubidoux's Kevin Ramos will also use the brisk pace to lower the personal bests under 1:59!

Girls 200 Meters

Meet Record: Eboni Sutherland (Centennial) 24.33 (2013)

Our speed from the 100 meters match up with the strength of the 400 meters...  Murrieta Mesa junior Chioma Okonkwo has experienced some nice improvement as evident from her 24.90 effort from the Arcadia Invite last weekend.  After qualifying for the SS CIF Finals in the 200 last year, La Sierra senior Mariah Allain has a seasonal best of 24.74w at the Mt. Carmel Invite.  But, fresh from the 400 meters, Citrus Valley freshman Cienna Norman-Thomas recorded a personal best of 24.93w at the Trabuco Hills Invite two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Palm Desert senior Hailey Murdica is coming off a 24.98w victory last weekend.  Perris senior Annaya Pelt continues to improve as she posted a new personal best last weekend at Arcadia (25.17w).  Along with her older sister, junior Deja Allain will be looking to use the brisk pace to break 25 seconds.  In the Frosh/Soph section, watch for Corona sophomore Egbe Ndipagbor.  Ranked #6 in California for the 400 meters, she has a seasonal best of 25.14 (run in the rain), while coming off a successful offseason where she was the top Californian in the 300 meters (38.93) at the Winter Championships. 



Boys 200 Meters

Meet Record: Michael Norman (Vista Murrieta) 20.74 (2016)   

We may still be catching our breath from the incredible depth and talent from the 100 meters.  Most of those nationally ranked stars are back for the 200 meters!   Like the in the 100, Yucaipa senior is the California state leader Asani Hampton (Frank Bellino photo above) is the headliner here.   Taking 2nd place at the IEC in 2017, Hampton's seasonal best is 21.26.  Winning that race at the Chandler Invite in Arizona, Hampton held off the deadly duo from Murrieta Mesa.   Seniors Christian Shakir Ricks and Matthew Okonkwo rolled to 21.46 and 21.52 in one of the fastest version of the 200 meters in the US this season.  Shakir came back last for a personal best 21.43 to move up to #3 in California (wind legal marks) while Okonkwo is #7.  This heat will feature four of the top seven in the CIF SS, as Parris Samaniego bested Okonkwo in their dual meet last month with a time of 21.58!  By the way, the Inland Empire actually boasts six of the top seven as the other two are resting up.  Elsinore junior Kamari Maddox (22.03) in the only underclassman in this heat, and will use the torrid pace to break 22. Palm Springs senior Cole Cruz have also dipped below 22.20 this season.  Overall, 19 boys are entered here with seed times below 22.40!   The warm up for our varsity concert is, like the 100, San Gorgonio's Lorenzo McMillan.  Currently, he is the #2 sophomore in California for the 200 meters (wind legal) as he opened the season here on this track with a 22.20!  Palm Desert's Liam Carr has run a 22.40 and will push McMillan. 

Girls 1600 Relay

Meet Record: Colony 3:54.13 (2009)

As the meet concludes in the late afternoon, Roosevelt's girls continue to be the standard for the 4x400 Relay.  With, yet, another girls group racing under a 3:55, the Div. I defending champs have unmatched depth (six girls under 61seconds).  Even if hurdling sensation Breanna Bernard Joseph does not compete here, they are still a sub 4:00 group.  They are currently #3 in California with a 3:51.41 seasonal best.  Emerging onto the statewide scene are the girls from Citrus Valley.  With Kyrah Johnson and Cierra Norman Thomas as their nucleus, the Blackhawks have moved to #6 in the CIF SS with a 3:52.61.  With those two squads, they should be well ahead of everybody else.  Murrieta Mesa and Vista Murrieta will be the top two squads challenging for the top three medals. 

Boys 1600 Relay

Meet Record: Rancho Verde 3:14.95 (2017)   

Like their women, Roosevelt's boys have been on the best in California for the last decade.  Led by Jalen Johnson (48.61) and Jackson Taylor (49.06) their 3:18.31 clocking is currently #3 in California.  With all characters on board, Roosevelt should run away with the victory.    In an epic matchup of Mustangs, Rancho Verde barely out leaned Roosevelt for the state title in 2017.  Rancho Verde waited until this meet to reveal that state championship crew and after last weekend, one wonders just how strong they are.  Their seasonal best of 3:24.72 (#12 in the section) could be improved upon as the group from Vista Murrieta has recorded a 3:23 this season.  Upland and Murrieta Mesa also possess the talent to push under that 3:25 threshold.   


Comments