New Balance Azusa Meet of Champions Preview

Claremont's Annie Boos puts her 4:48 PR on the line against current state leader Claudia Lane in a star-studded girls mile.

Every year, the Azusa Meet of Champions serves as one of the best and most competitive distance meets in the nation. In 2016 we saw 11 boys go under 4:10 for the full mile and 7 girls under 5:00 respectively. This years contest looks to be no different as the state's best talent will be on display under the lights.

Boys Preview

Although the top-seeded sections don't take the track until after the sun sets, let's begin with the daytime open varsity races which include 3 heats of the 3200, 7 heats of the 800, and an astounding 24 heats of the 1600. Some notable names who were left out of the night races include Mark Field (Newport Harbor) who last year ran 4:19 to place 8th at CIF D2 Finals, Xavier Court (Mira Costa) who placed 8th in D2 at the Cross Country State Meet this past fall, and Justin Eipp (Great Oak) who placed 2nd in the 1500 at the Winter Track Championships last month.

Now onto the night races! These consist of a Seeded and Invitational race for both Frosh-Soph and Varsity in the 800, 1600, and 3200 (4 Races per Event). First up in 800, the Invite race is headlined by David Hulme of Foothill who owns a PR of 1:54.58 from last season. Also running are Jake Lamb (1:55.40) of Glendora and Ryan Bush (1:55.73) of Tesoro. Hulme, howeve,r has only run 1:59.55 this outdoor season; look for him to take the pace out fast and lead from gun. Next up is arguably the most competitive race of the night and that is the Running Warehouse Men's Invitational Mile. Callum Bolger is the only returning runner from last years field. His time of 4:07.85 for the full mile was good enough for a 6th place finish and currently ranks him as the fastest runner in this years field. Ethan Comeaux (4:09.72), the only other runner to own a sub 4:10 PR is also slated to race. Also racing are returning state finalist Solomon Fountain (4:10.28) and current state leader Trad Berti (4:16.36). Expect this race to be very fast as these runners are hungry to PR since nobody has broken 4:16 so far this season. Lastly we have our Invitational 3200 race. Every runner in this race with the exception of Evert Silva has forgone the opportunity to race in the mile to save their legs for this loaded race. Silva also happens to hold the fastest PR in the field with a 9:02.46 which placed him 9th at the State Meet last season. Last year we saw Lalo Herrera pull of an ultra impressive 4:04/9:02 double less than 90 minutes apart, this year his Central Valley counterpart Evert Silva looks to do the same. Other runners set to toe the line include Miguel Villar (9:04.89), Carlos Carvajal (9:16.20), and Carson Bix (9:17.89).

Girls Preview

Headlining the day portion of the meet is Great Oak's Maya Ambroziak, who will be running in heat three of the girls 1600. Last season Ambroziak ran 5:03.82 and missed qualifying to CIF D1 Finals by a single place. Running in heat one of the morning 3200 is Olivia Polischeck from Palos Verdes who placed in the top 25 at CIF D3 Cross Country Finals this past fall.

This year's nighttime Invitational 800 looks to be a fast race from the gun as the field is lined with sub 2:15 runners. Jacquelyn Hill of Etiwanda leads the field as she owns the fastest PR of 2:08.06 which came in 2015 when she placed 3rd at the State Meet. Recent University of Oregon Signee, Kiley McCarthy will be running as well and holds a personal best of 2:08.85. In 2015 McCarthy placed 5th at the California State Meet. Current CA #7 Jennifer Daly is slated to race and owns the second fastest time in the field this season at 2:14.72, only .22 seconds behind McCarthy. The Girl's Running Warehouse Invitational Mile looks to be just as intriguing if not more than the boys' race. Leading the field is 2016 Foot Locker National Champion, Claudia Lane of Malibu. Lane holds a PR of 4:53.23 which was set earlier this month and is the current CA #1. The fastest PR in field however belongs to Annie Boos of Claremont, who last year ran 4:48.95 at the Southern Section Masters Meet. Also racing are Haley Herberg (4:54.52) and Chloe Arriaga (4:59.27), ranked CA #3 and CA #6 this season. Look for this race to be taken out fast from from gun as whenever a field this strong gets together, PR's are ready to be run. In the Invitational 3200, four girls from the mile are expected to double. These girls are Hannah Tobin, Mariah Castillo, Niki Iyer, and Lane. Current CA #1 Lane has run 10:37.62 this already season, but is the 90 minute gap between the mile and 3200 enough for her to recover? Several girls in this field own faster PR's and they are Iyer (10:24.39), Claire Graves (10:26.07), Sylvia Cruz-Albrecht (10:29.45), Elizabeth Chittenden (10:32.91), Tobin (10:36.07), and Megan Lowe (10:36.51). Look for either Graves or Chittenden to take the pace out early as they will be fresh. This stacked field is going to be a race for the ages as these elite girls all toe the line.