CA All-State T&F: Boys Track Athlete of the Year

MileSplitCA 2018 Boys Track & Field Track Athlete of the Year


Murrieta Mesa/SS

Senior | Sprints, Relays

As post-season award selections go, this one is as clear-cut as they come.

What Christian Shakir-Ricks did at the CIF-State Championships to carry Murrieta Mesa to the program's first boys team title, is one of legend.

While some elite sprinters over the years have stepped aside to let a worthy alternate run a leg of the 4x400 relay in Friday night qualifying at the State Meet, Shakir-Ricks was not awarded such luxury. Nope, he ran all eight races over two grueling days in the heat at Clovis Buchanan High and still had plenty in the tank when it came time for his leg of that 4x400 relay at the end of the meet on Saturday night.

If there was fatigue from his previous seven races -- which included a sub-21.00 200m for the gold medal, a bronze in the 100m, and another on anchor of the 4x100 relay -- Shakir-Ricks was not about to let that interfere with his final objective. Galloping his way with the power of someone seemingly fresh, he blistered a 45.6 anchor leg and brought the Rams' team home with a US #1 time of 3:10.86 (CA #19 all-time). 

"With him, it's just a mindset," Murrieta Mesa coach Aaron Ballou said in a post-meet interview. "I've never seen a kid that is more competitive than him. ... He split 46 (in prelims) and I was worried that he wouldn't have anything left in the tank today, yet he came back and did very, very well."

Putting the Rams on his back is what the Cerritos Gahr High transfer did the entire season. While he gained notice in the sprints throughout the spring, it's what he did once the CIF post-season got underway that earned him the 2018 MileSplitCA Boys Track Athlete of the Year honors.

At the Southwestern League Finals, he won both sprints and anchored both relays to victories. In the 4x100, he beat Great Oak's Grant Gaskins to the line for a narrow victory. Gaskins and Great Oak's 4x1 would go on to win the State Meet title and the Wolfpack would go on to win the Southern Section Division 1 title and place a narrow second to Murrieta Mesa in the final boys team standings at the State Championships. So, not your ordinary league meet.

Shakir-Ricks continued to dominate in the Southern Section Division 2 Finals, winning the 100 (10.74/-0.3) and 200 (21.47/0.0) and again anchoring both relay teams to victory as the Rams won the title, the first for Ballou, the only head track coach the 10-year-old school has ever had.

At Southern Section Masters, Shakir-Ricks won the 200 (21.32/1.1), barely missed beating Asani Hampton in the 100 (10.52 to 10.53), and also helped both relays earn their tickets to the State Finals at Buchanan.

At State, Shakir-Ricks ran a CA #1 and US #16 (tie) PR in winning the 200 (22.98/0.2), took 3rd in the 100 (10.54/0.7), anchored the 4x100 relay to a 5th place finish (41.51) -- the team's only sub-par performance of the finals -- and then displayed his epic stamina and strength in anchoring the winning 4x400 relay (3:10.86). 

Among other highlights: Shakir-Ricks ran his 100m PR at State Prelims (10.51) which ranks CA #3, and he won the 200 at Mt. SAC Relays (21.35/2.5). Of the 14 times he raced the 200 meters during the CIF season, Shakir-Ricks had the fastest time in 11 of them including the last nine in a row. 

Christian Shakir-Ricks (second from left) helped give head coach Aaron Ballou (right) and Murrieta Mesa the 10-year-old program its first Southern Section divisional and CIF State titles. (Jeffrey Parenti photo)

Others considered

Kazmier Allen (Tulare/CS) Sr. -- Allen, a UCLA-bound football running back, won the State championship in the 100 meters (10.44/0.7). His winning time is a wind-legal PR that ranks CA #2. His all-conditions PR of 10.32 (3.4) from the Central Section finals, ranks US #13 (tie) all-conditions and US #10 (tie) among the senior class. Allen is a two-time State 100m medalist (placed 6th as a junior) and two-time CS 100 meter champion.

Liam Anderson (Redwood/NC) Jr. -- Anderson is the State champion at 1600 meters (4:09.31) and also earned a 5th-place State Meet medal over 3200 meters (9:00.60). His winning 1600 time was a 2.12-second PR drop and ranks CA #1 and US #6 in the junior class. His 3200 PR of 8:52.74, run at the Arcadia Invitational, is CA #1 overall, US #6 overall, and US #1 in the Class of 2019.

Jaden Ellis (Vista del Lago/SS) Sr. -- Ellis is the State Meet champion in the 110 hurdles (13.97/1.0). His PR of 13.93, clocked at the State Prelims, is CA #1 wind-legal, CA #2 all-conditions. Ellis won the 110s at six meets his senior season, including the Inland Empire Championships (14.67/-0.5), Mt SAC Relays (14.36/1.2, his previous PR before State), and the Southern Section Division 3 Finals (14.49/-0.9).

Max Glasser (Marin Catholic/NC) Sr. -- Glasser is the State Meet champion in the 400 meter run (46.97 PR). His winning time ranks as CA #1, US #12 in the senior class. Glasser, who is headed to UC Davis to play soccer and run track, is a three-time State Meet qualifier and first-time medalist. Among his season highlights: He ran 47.31 to win at Stanford, 47.41 to win North Coast Section Meet of Champions, and 47.54 for the top time at State Prelims. 

Jason Gomez (Westmont/CC) Sr. -- Gomez is the State Meet champion in the 800 meter run (1:50.21). His winning time is CA #1, US #8, and US #6 in the senior class. Gomez, who upset 2017 State champion Jett Charvet in the final, is a two-time State medalist (4th as a junior, 1:52.22) and the Central Coast Section champion (1:52.89).

Asani Hampton (Yucaipa/SS) Sr. -- Hampton is the State Meet runner-up in both the 100 meters (10.45/0.7) and in the 200 meters (21.13/0.2). He ran the second-fastest wind-legal 100m in CA history of 10.26 (0.1) at the Citrus Belt League final, held at Yucaipa HS. That time ranks US #3 for wind-legal times, US #6 (tied) all-conditions, and #2 in CA history behind the record of 10.25 set by Hawthorne's Henry Thomas in 1985. Hampton, who is headed to the University of Michigan, is a three-time State Meet medalist at 100m (4th as a junior, 6th as a sophomore) and two-time finalist at 200m. He is the Southern Section Division 1 champion in both sprints and the SS Masters champion in the 100m.

Cameron Reynolds (Clayton Valley/NC) Jr. -- Reynolds won three medals at the CIF State Meet: 2nd in the 400m (47.27), 5th in the 200m (21.50), and he anchored the 2nd-place 4x400 relay (3:12.31). Reynolds' 400m PR of 47.09 from league finals is CA #1, US #10 and CA #2 overall. His 200m PR of 21.46 from State Prelims is CA #7. Clayton Valley's 4x400 relay time is CA #2, US #7.

Caleb Roberson (Upland/SS) Jr. -- Roberson is the State Meet champion in the 300 hurdles (36.61). His winning time is CA #1 overall, US #5 overall. His prior season best of 37.23 was set at State Prelims. Roberson, who is also a heavily recruited football player, has an all-conditions 100m PR of 10.56 (3.2), which ranks CA #4 (tie) overall, and an all-conditions 110H PR of 14.12 (2.7), which is CA #8 (tie) overall. As a sophomore, he placed 5th at State in the long jump, an event he didn't compete in this season to focus on sprints and hurdles.

Matt Strangio (Jesuit/SJ) So. -- Strangio won the State Meet title in the 3200 meter run (8:56.18 PR), outsprinting Portland-bound senior Justin Hazell (El Camino Real/LA) in the homestretch for the title. Strangio's PR is CA and US #1 in the class and CA #2 overall and US #15 overall. He posted a 3.08-second 1600 PR (4:13.41) in winning at Golden West post-State Finals. 

Sophomore Matt Strangio needed a relentless kick to win the State 3200 meter title. (Pat Rhames photo)