Records, fast times highlight Day 1 at Mt. SAC Relays

TORRANCE -- Maddy Denner ran a meet record-time in the 3,200 meters, Mariah Castillo used her superpower kick to overcome McKenna Brown to take over the U.S. lead in the one-mile run, and the Great Oak girls 4x800 meter relay team bettered its national lead in meet-record time during Friday night's high school portion of the 60th Mt. SAC Relays at El Camino College.

Friday night was reserved for distances and relays with an otherwise full schedule for high schools set for Saturday. 

In a battle between the defending CIF-State Champion and runner-up, meeting on the track for the first time since that race last June and just the second time ever, Denner stalked Claudia Lane from the pack for the first mile -- announced in 5:06 -- and took the lead for good with about 1,100 to go, pulling away in announced splits of 75-75-74 for meet record time of 10:08.01. That clocking is No. 2 in the U.S., for the Michigan-bound Denner, who was second to Lane at last year's State final. 

I was really excited to get to race Claudia," Denner said. "She definitely pushed me."

By pushing her, Denner meant that Claudia helped pull her through the first mile in that fast announced time. 

"It was an awesome race," Denner said. "I think I closed, it must have been just slightly under five (minutes). So, that was exciting. I've never closed in under-five before."

Lane, who took her traditional fast early lead but couldn't quite pull away, finished in 10:18.68. It was her first competitive 3,200 since winning at Stanford (10:24.72). Lane had a late start to her track season because of an extended cross country season and subsequent illness. 

"It was a hard race for me," Lane said, "because I started my season a little late because of the flu, so still kind of getting back into it. I wish I could be a little further along in my season but obviously that's not the way things played out with being sick and stuff."

Denner broke the previous 3200 record of 10:08.31 set by Lauren Gregory (Fort Collins, CO) in 2017. 

The Oak Ridge junior duo of Sylvia Cruz-Albrecht (10:18.74) and Sarah Shulze (10:41.57) finished 3rd and 5th, respectively. Aubrey Frentheway (Cheyenne (WY) Centeral) was 4th (19:27.49).

In the Brooks Mile, Castillo, the Saugus senior, used her lethal kick to pass La Costa Canyon's McKenna Brown with 300 meters to go and went on to win in 4:43.69. Brown, who previously held the US #1 spot, PR'd by more than two seconds with her 4:45.46.

Castillo broke the previous meet record of 4:47.26 set by Rylee Bowen (Sonoma Academy) in 2016. 

In the boys mile, Jericho Cleveland (Volcano Vista, NM) held off Xavier Court (Mira Costa) for the victory. Cleveland, who already at the nation's second-fastest time in the mile, is now #1 at 4:09.42. Court lowered his CA #1 best to 4:12.43. Ayala's Andrew Martinez was third in 4:13.81

The boys 3200 appeared to be Justin Hazell's to enjoy but it took what he called the fastest final 400 of his life to earn the title. Burbank Burroughs senior Jagdeep Chahal did everything he could to steal the victory with a hugh late kick that came up just short. Hazell, a senior at El Camino Real of the LA City Section, hung on at 9:00.60 (CA #5) with Chahal second in 9:00.61.

Joaquin Martinez de Pinillos (Cathedral Catholic/SD) was third (9:04.41) with Trevor Woodward (Corona Centennial) fourth in 9:06.11.

The boys 4x800 team from Loyola/SS of Konnor Paris, Anthony Stone, Corey Kumamoto and Mason Ratkovich won the sprint at the end to defeat Arcadia Invitational winner Great Oak. Loyola's time of 7:45.77, brought home with a powerful kick from Ratkovich, a junior, vaulted the Cubs into the US #1 spot. Great Oak was second in 7:46.26 (US #2). 

"I think (the key) was our depth," Ratkovich said. "We all hit times that we wanted to hit. We knew that we could come in and run our best here."

"Even since freshman year, we've always been second, third, fourth to Great Oak," Kumamota a senior, said. "Coming out on top is incredible. We've been always in the shadow of Great Oak. Even this year we got fourth in cross country. At Arcadia we got eighth and Great Oak won the 4x8. So to come back out on top and show who we truly are and show the times we knew we could run, just incredible. Amazing."

The Great Oak team of Sandra PflughoftArianna Griffiths, Tori Gaitan and Fatima Cortes set a 4x800 relay meet record of 9:03.31. Walnut was second (9:18.04) with Ventura third (9:19.28). The Wolfpack quartet, in breaking the previous mark of 9:03.77 set by Harvard Westlake in 2011, also lowered their previous US #1 time from 9:05.34 set two weeks before at Arcadia.

The foursome, in a different order with Griffiths anchoring, came back later Friday night at crushed the 4x1600 with a 20:06.96 clocking that lowered their previous national best by 2.5 seconds. Walnut, with a stellar anchor by junior Chloe Arriaga, was second in 20:49.44.

Great Oak's boys 4x1600 team of Gavin Korby, Chris Verdugo, Tyler Tickner and Carlos Carvajal closed out the high school portion of the Friday schedule with a 17:25.02 victory to take over the national lead. Crescenta Valley was second in 17:30.01.