National leading marks highlight Arcadia Day 1

Anchored by sophomore Tori Gaitan, Great Oak's 4x800 and 4x1600 girls relay teams posted national-leading times to highlight the Friday night 'Burnin Batons' portion of the 51st Arcadia Invitational track meet. 

Those were the only national-leading marks set Friday night among the girls. Teams going to US #1 on the boys side: Mission Viejo 's Sprint Medley Relay and Dublin's 4x1600 in an epic dual with Bellarmine Prep.

With Gaitan on the anchor, Great Oak went 9:05.34 to easily outdistance Santa Cruz (9:08.84) in the 4x8 and blew away the field in the 4x1600 (20:09.46) over Pine Crest of Florida (20:24.73) and Buchanan (20:28.52) in the 4x16.

"Each and every one of our girls PR'd in the (4x8), which was amazing," said Gaitan, the national leader in the 3,200 (10:18.80) and CA #7 in the 1,600 (4:51.60).

"We were a little tired coming into the 4x16 but we definitely had our expectations high still, we wanted to attempt that national record. We didn't get as close as we wanted to, our legs were tired from the 4x8 and it's definitely hard running alone. We know we can run the times to do it, it's running alone that is the challenge." 

Gaitan ran alone on her legs in both races -- including Santa Cruz senior Mari Friedman in the 4x8 -- a credit to her teammates. In the 4x8 (pictured above), Ericka Burgess ran the lead followed by sophomore Arianna Griffiths, junior Fatima Cortes and Gaitan, who anchored in 2:14.50.  

The 4x16 lineup was similar with senior Sandra Pflughoft on the lead, followed by Griffiths, Cortes (4:56 split), and Gaitan, who closed in 5:04. 

Mariah Castillo gave Saugus a first-leg lead, sprinting away from the pack over the final 300 meters. It was Cortes on the third leg that put the Wolfpack in front for good and provided a comfortable gap for Gaitan to cruise.

The 4x8 times for Great Oak and Santa Cruz rank US #1 & #2 and the top four times in the 4x16 lead the nation. Clovis Buchan (20:28.52) was third and Claremont (20:48.05) fourth in the 4x1600.

The Santa Cruz High girls 4x800 team also included Anaya Ward, Ella Hedrick and Lila Roake

Great Oak's boys also won the 4x8 in a US #6 7:53.29 from senior Gavin Korby, sophomore Chris Verdugo, senior Jacob Korgan and senior Carlos Carvajal discus their 7:53.29 victory over Roosevelt (7:53.90), Redondo (7:54.08) and Vista Murrieta (7:54.42). The Wolfpack quartet's time ranks CA #1 and US #6.

Twins Maddy Denner and Elena Denner of Oak Ridge (Lizette Adams photo below) are just getting started with their season. They ran in the seeded 3200m on Friday night.

Maddy won the race in 10:28.32 (CA #6), with Elena second in 10:34.56 (CA #12). This was the first 3200 of the season for Maddy, who was second at CIF-State at this distance and is the defending 1600m champion.

They opted to run the 3200 Friday night instead of in Saturday's invitational so that they could compete with their team in the DMR on Saturday. 

"It definitely didn't go how I hoped," Maddy said, "but that's OK. I'm glad that I broke 10:30. I wanted to do a tiny bit better than I did but I'm happy with it. It's my first 32 this season."

Denner said she ran 10:24 at Arcadia last year. "So, it's pretty comparable."

Elena, who was fourth at State in the 3,200, is just getting back after missing five weeks with an injury. 
"The race worked out pretty much perfect for me," Elena said. "I just kept 80s for the first six laps and picked it up for the last two. That's my perfect strategy for every race.

"I just wanted to break 10:40. That was just a perfect race for me. I'm pretty happy with that.

"I'm just kind of getting back in. I wasn't even sure if I could run at this meet. Getting to be here and race is just a blessing and I'm so happy I got to run."

Eastvale Roosevelt's girls 4x800 relay team of Jewelyn Felix, Alexys Ford, Miranda Camargo and Paloma Barron won the seeded race in 9:24.36. That time was sixth overall and CA #6.

The Clovis North boys 4x200 team dropped a CA #1 time of 1:26.09, with Murrieta Mesa running a CA #2 time of 1:26.32. Nationally those times rank #16 and #18, respectively.

Brett Hickman (pictured above) ran a blistering anchor leg as the Mission Viejo boys SMR team held off Orange County rival Los Alamitos to post a US #1 time of 3:27.64. Los Al is US #3 at 3:29.27.

"The guys did great," Diablos distance coach Robert Belo said. "The (200-200-400) legs did awesome, hung right in there, set Brett up great. We just knew that if he was within three seconds of the lead we had a good shot of pulling it off and trying to go for the national record."


Hickman struggled in recovery after leaving everything on the track in that anchor leg split that Belo said was 1:52 (Hickman ranks #2 CA in the 800 at 1:53.40).

"Strenghth-work wise, he was able to hold," Belo said. "We talk about getting yourselves to the wall best you can and he was able to do that today."

The top 12 times in CA -- and top four US -- were posted in the boys 4x1600 relay, led by Dublin's 17:29.92 as anchor Adrian Schroeder held off Bellarmine's Alex Scales at the finish. Bellarmine (17:30.20), Timpaw of Utah (17:37.53) and Lone Peak of Utah (17:41.73) rank 2-4 nationally.

Also Friday:

  • Upland went 58.50 in the girls 400m shuttle hurdle relay. That ranks CA #1 and US #5.
  • Bonita went a CA-leading 1:40.38 in the 4x200 relay but it was Bullis of Maryland that won the event i a US #3 1:36.18 with Rancho of Nevada second in a US #6 1:37.21.
  • Los Alamitos posted a CA-leading 4:02.36 (US #6) in the Sprint Medley Relay.
  • Rancho Bernardo's Josh Farmer was the first-day leader in the decathlon at the Arcadia Multis with 3,625 points after Day 1 competition.