Redondo, Weekend Recap: Stars reign despite damp conditions

It rained a little bit Friday night at Redondo Union High School and quite a bit more Saturday afternoon until the evening end of the two-day Redondo Nike Track Festival. 

Not that the athletes seemed to notice. And, that seemed to be the trend around CA this past weekend. The clock doesn't lie and the performances speak for themselves.

But it did rain Saturday night a stone's throw from the Pacific Ocean in Redondo Beach and it was rather consistent for the latter third of the meet, or thereabouts. But no, only observers and those under umbrellas seemed to notice. The athletes? 

No, there she was, Breanna Bernard-Joseph, in the dark and the wet nearing the end of Saturday's 12-hour marathon, settling into the blocks for her heat of the 300m hurdles.

CA's finest long hurdler and a future USC Trojan, whose early-season best of 43.62 ranks No. 5 U.S., was one of 26 who waited out the wet and growing evening chill to compete in the penultimate event of the meet. Her 44.35 winning time from a three-runner Heat 6 was far from her best yet well ahead of heat and event runner-up Amari Jenkins, a sophomore from Riverside North (46.94). 

"I was thinking about how my experience with running in the rain is really going to come in handy at this time, and to not focus on the weather condition or how many other girls had dropped out the race," Bernard-Joseph wrote in a post-meet interview. "I just needed to run my race the way I know how and to run for time in order to win overall."

While Bernard-Joseph's is a snapshot of perseverance, there were so many impressive performances at the Redondo Nike Track Festival that it's difficult to know where to start. So we started at the end of Saturday night.

The end of Friday night was a showcase for DMRs, with Great Oak's girls lineup of Tori Gaitan, Ericka Burgess, Arianna Griffiths and Fatima Cortes running away in a national-leading 12:03.64 not long after the Wolfpack's 4x800 team (ordered as Cortes, Gaitan Griffiths, Burgess) also rocketed to the top of the U.S. charts in 9:20.11.

Saugus, with Mariah Castillo anchoring, was second in the DMR (12:14.81) for No. 2 U.S. and Redondo Union was second in the 4x800 in 9:32.97, No. 7 nationally. 

While the front end of the girls races were more team vs. clock, the boys races were rival vs. rival.

Roosevelt's boys, with an epic anchor by Raymon Ornelas, holding off Great Oak to win in 10:33.31. Carlos Carvajal anchored the Wolfpack in 10:33.56. Those are the Nos. 6 and 7 times, respectively, in the U.S.

That was the second mano a mano between those two teams, and two individuals who battled over two laps earlier in anchoring the 4x800. Again, it was Ornelas getting Roosevelt across first (7:55.58) with Carvajal closing for Great Oak in (7:56.26). Those are the Nos. 5 and 6 times respectively in the U.S.

Great Oak, which swept the team titles, got three wins in the boys field events with Jaime Navarro with double-PRs in winning the shot put (57-11) and the discus throw (185-8, No. 4 U.S.) contested Friday night, and CJ Stevenson also posting a PR in winning the long jump (23-06.50) on Saturday. Stevenson, the defending CIF-State champion in the triple jump, did not compete in that event at Redondo.

Related: Pre-event interview with Jaime Navarro

Two notes: West Ranch's Daniel Bryant was second in both throws and PR'd in the shot (57-6). ... Clovis North sophomore Caleb Foster was second in the LJ (23-01.25) but did have an obvious foul on an impressive attempt that was measured at 24-9.

One final note on Great Oak: In a stacked boys 1600m, it was Long Beach State-bound senior Gavin Korby who emerged from a tight conservative pack -- of which Korby was boxed for much of the race -- to ride an impressive homestretch kick to win going away. Coach Doug Soles called it his "favorite performance of the weekend" following the 4:18.65 PR.

Carvajal was second (4:19.18) with El Camino Real senior Justin Hazell, in his 2018 track & field debut, placing third (4:19.29). Andrew Martinez of Ayala was fourth (4:19.34) with Ornelas fifth (4:19.57) followed by Mira Costa's Xavier Court (4:19.84) and Buena's Brett Beattie (4:20.19). 

"It shows how important not leading is in winning races," Soles wrote in a text interview. "Gavin is much improved. That was a loaded field, no doubt."

In the girls 1600m, run Friday night, it was the TCU-bound Castillo of Saugus who showed off her stellar kick to win in 4:54.03, No. 4 U.S.

Another impressive performance in the girls distances was that of Ayala junior Mikaela Ramirez, who posted the nation's No. 6 time in winning the 3200m in 10:35.07. To do it she had to old off the Oak Park duo of Sarah Shulze and Sylvia Cruz-Albrecht. Shulze was secont in 10:47.20, No. 10 U.S., and Cruz-Albrecht was third in 10:47.27, No. 11 U.S.

Of note in the girls field events, Faimalie Sale (Los Alamitos) won the shot put with a best of 44-3.25 (No. 8 U.S.) and Natalie Ramirez (West Ranch) won the discus throw with a mark of 154-5 (No. 5 U.S.). ... Returning CIF-State HJ champ Abby Burke (Riverside Poly) won with a best of 5-5 and took three jumps at 5-7, one that she said was good. 

Abby Burke on the awards stand following her HJ victory at Redondo. (Jeffrey Parenti photo)

Related: Meet Abby Burke

Final notes from Redondo: The Clovis North boys relay team of Christian Wood, Naythn Scruggs, Caleb Foster and Kurt Kobzeff dropped their CA-leading time to 41.54, holding off runner-up Long Beach Poly (42.48). ... Running on a wet track in a drizzle into a 0.5 meters-per-second headwind, Yucaipa's Asani Hampton blew away the competition in the 19th heat of the 100m, and the field overall, in 10.78. It wasn't the CA-leading/No. 4 U.S. 10.53 he posted the week before at Saddle Up. Blame the conditions, perhaps. We also got a glimpse of Hampton, the top returning 200m sprinter in CA, put up his first deuce of the season, albeit in a very fast split of an SMR. (If you didn't know this before, the Michigan-bound sprinter was also an all-CIF divisional football player as a defensive back who had seven kickoff/punt returns for TDs last season. Don't think he's not on Jim Harbaugh's radar.) ... The meet produced seven CA-leading marks, including a 46.91 4x100m relay by Calabasas (No. 14 U.S.), a lineup that included junior sprint star Deanna Nowling, who also won the 400m (57.36). Nowling was fourth in the 100m and seventh in the 200m at June's CIF-State final. 

Related coverage from the Redondo Nike Track Festival:

Elsewhere Across CA

Friday night's Kern Invitational at Bakersfield Liberty HS turned out some eye-popping marks. 

  • Liberty freshman Faith Bender posted the nation's best discus throw, hitting 160-2 . 
  • Bakersfield Highland senior Moises Medrano, one of the returning medalists from CIF-State in the 800m, recorded the U.S. No. 8 time of 1:54.62. 
  • Stockdale senior Aaliyah Wilson won both the 100m (11.73) and the 100m hurdles (14.16) with the Nos. 4 and 9 marks, respectively, in the country. 

At the Randy Sturgeon Invitational at Granite Bay HS, Folsom Vista del Lago's Jake Grimsman cleared 7-2 in the high jump. He is No. 2 U.S. to Trabuco Hills senior Sean Lee, who earlier this season cleared 7-3. Those are the top two high jumpers back from last year's State meet, won by Lee. 

  • The high jump competition is heating up and Liberty senior Seth Krauss may be the next jumper to clear 7-feet. He went 6-11 to win at Kern, No. 4 U.S.

And, another to keep an eye on here is Shingle Springs Ponderosa senior Jack Hartung who cleared 6-10 to win Thursday's Friendship Meet hosted by his school. That marks is tied for No. 5 nationally. 

At the Clovis East Carnival:

  • Fowler junior Jocelynn Budwig threw the discus 157-3 to rank No. 3 U.S.
  • Clovis West junior Elizabeth Funk took over the CA lead in the pole vault with a 12-9 clearance, No. 2 U.S. The competition is heating up in the pole vault as both Laurel Wong (Monterey Santa Catalina) and Kelley Kern (Carondelet) each cleared 12-6 at separate meets. Wong, a junior, hit her mark at the K-Bell Invitational and Kern, a sophomore, cleared hers at the EBAL Center Meet

Also from the K-Bell:

  • The 1600m times posted by Bellarmine's Alex Scales (4:16.88) and Mountain View St. Francis junior Colton Colonna (4:16.91) rank Nos. 7 and 8, respectively, in the country.
  • St. Ignatius College Prep senior Alex Enos went 24-02.50 in the long jump, the best mark in the country so far this season.
  • Presentation senior Natalie Cheadle won the long jump (17-11.50, No. 5 U.S.) while Laurel Wong went 17-09.50 for second and No. 9 U.S.
  • Leigh senior Hawa Kamari went 39-5 to win the triple jump, a mark that stands No. 2 U.S.

At the South County Classic at Trabuco Hills HS on Friday:

  • Mission Viejo junior Brett Hickman ran 4:15.95 for 1600m, No. 3 U.S.
  • Santa Margarita senior Nikki Merritt put in some work winning the 100m (12.28), 100 hurdles (15.05), 300 hurdles (44.26) and ran a 55.3 split to anchor the 4x400m relay to a CA-leading 3:57.85.
  • Mission Viejo junior Kelli Hines posted the second-fastest 3200m in the country, 10:32.03 while not too far away on Friday at the Irvine Invitational, Capistrano Valley senior Haley Herberg was posting the No. 1 32 in the U.S. (10:23.17).

Additional Performances Of Note

In Thursday's league meet with Agoura, Newbury Park junior Gino Cruz threw the discus 184-11, No. 5 U.S.

At Saturday's Ventura Invitational, Ventura junior Carlos Aviles went 58-11 in the shot to rank No. 8 U.S.

At Saturday's Bronco Invitational at Rancho Bernardo HS, La Costa Canyon junior Jessica Riedman won the 800 in 2:13.80, No. 8 U.S.

More Weekend Coverage