Southern Section Division 2 Preview


With San Gorgonio's Lorenzo McMillan transferring to Cajon (and moving to Division I), the battle in the short sprints will be between Elsinore's Kamari Maddox (10.80w best) and Mater Dei's Chad Lemmons (10.87 wind-legal best).    Maddox, one of the top long jumpers in California, was the runner-up last year in the 100 meters, while Lemmons crossed in fourth place.  In the 200 meters, Lemmons (21.87 wind-aided best) was fourth while Maddox took sixth place.  West Torrance junior Turner Fernandez returns with the top time in the 100 (under all conditions) and took fifth place at the 2018 Division 2 Finals.  Mater Dei's Bryson Washington is one of the top returners in the 100 meters (10.89 wind-legal best) along with Mission Viejo's Chase Berryman (10.90 best).  Berryman also shines in the 200 meters where he returns as the fourth fastest (21.96) from a year ago.   Do not overlook Jamar Simpson of Rancho Verde as he was a Division 1 Finalist for the 100 meters in 2018 as well.  

In the 400 meters. no boys return from last year's Division 2 final.  With that, only two boys return with sub-50 second credentials!  On paper, the top returner is Hesperia's Milton Woodson (49.69) while Woodbridge's Christopher Cooper (49.87).  A whole new crop of faces will line up for this season's 400-meter final.     

Simi Valley's Riley Hunt stepped into another gear during the 2018 postseason.  Erupting with his best race of the season at the California State Meet final, Hunt crossed for the third place medal (14.09).  At the Division 2 finals, he was the runner-up while returning the following week to capture first place at the Southern Section Masters Meet.   Also a Division 2 finalist in the 300 Hurdles (38.82 best), he finished sixth and is the only returner from last year's final.  Zach Reid of Bonita (14.91 best) and Ventura's Derek Pekar (14.90 best) were fifth and sixth, respectively at the 2018 Division 2 Finals.  Moving in from Division 1, Peninsula's Aiden Lieb was a CIF Finalist in 2018.  Finally, Rancho Verde's Jevon Weems is the fastest returner (39.74) behind Hunt for the 300 Hurdles. 

Ethan Danforth of Canyon (Canyon Country) returns to defend his Division 2 title in the 3200 meters.  With precise timing over the latter part of his race, Danforth surprised many when he crossed for a fourth-place medal (9:00.32) at the California State Meet.   As sophomores, Joseph Pearlman of Dos Pueblos and Keith Murray of Moorpark, finished eighth and ninth a year ago for the 3200.  Alexis Garcia of Newport Harbor returns with the second fastest 2018 mark (9:14.74) and is fresh off his victory at the Winter Championships in the 3000 meters.  With West Ranch and Claremont, two of the top distance programs in California, moving to Division 1, it waters down Division 2 which is now in need of fresh faces to step up. 

We expect the fastest returner for the 1600 meters, Noah Hibbard of Arroyo, to challenge Danforth and that nine-minute threshold this postseason!  Hibbard was seventh a year ago in the 1600 (4:15.82), but after his breakout season this past Cross Country season where he qualified for the Footlocker Nationals, many see him as the favorite to capture both events.  Jeremiah Rasmussen of Hart is the only other finalist in the 1600 (4:16.65) from the 2018 finals.   Newport Harbor's Garcia rolled to a 4:19.99 in 2018 while a host of individuals will be looking to break the 4:20 barrier in 2019.     

The top returners for the 800 meters remained intact, Mater Dei's John Wacker (1:54.33) and Thousand Oaks' Mitchell Burr finished fourth and fifth, respectively, a year ago.  Meanwhile, the fastest freshman in the nation in 2018, Golden Valley's Antonio Abrego (1:55.09) was seventh at the Division 2 finals last year.   With all three advancing to the Southern Section Masters Meet, Burr was able to outlast his fellow Division 2 foes with a 1:54.11 personal best.   With La Mirada moving to Division 3, Christian Santiago placed seventh (1:57.35) at the 2018 finals.

Ventura's Carlos Aviles (above) returns as one of the best in the United States.  Coming into 2019 as the fifth best in the Discus and sixth for the Shot Put in the nation, the defending Division 2 champion in the Shot Put (63-5.5) and Discus (194-1 best) will have plenty of motivation.  Aviles was unable to live up to his stats from April of last year during his postseason run to the State Meet.  Advancing to both finals at the State Meet, he finished tenth for the Discus and 12th in the Shot Put. 

Newport Harbor junior Aidan Elbettar placed third in 2018 in the Shot Put while placing eighth in the Discus (168-7 best).  Elbattar was one of the top sophomores in the nation in the Shot Put with a best of 58-5.  Improving in the postseason, he earned the runner-up spot at the Southern Section Masters Meet and surprised when he came home with a sixth-place medal at the California State Championships.    Elbattar opened the 2019 season with a 182-9 personal best in the Discus while also measuring out to another 60-3 personal best in the Shot Put.   

As a freshman, Kienan Donovan of Golden Valley made it out of the Foothill League, advanced to the Div. 2 finals and placed ninth.  Donovan recently proved that he will be one of the top sophomores in the nation with his 54-9.5, fourth place finish at the Winter Championships.   Also from the same league, Jacob Lopez of Canyon (CC) is the third top returner in both throws with 57-7 and 155-10 personal bests from 2018.  Jake Porter of Canyon (Anaheim) is also projected to advance to the Division 2 Finals in both throws.

The vertical jumps are headlined by 2018 champion, San Marcos' Beau Allen.  He comes in as the heavy favorite and a 6-10 personal best.   Despite his best performance coming in March of last year, Allen was consistent and placed fourth at the 2018 California State Meet.  This will be his third season of advancing onto the Masters Meet.  His teammate, Jadyn Mata (6-06 personal best) was third a year ago and accompanied Allen to the California State Meet.  Joining the group from Division 1, Edison's Aiden Garnett and his 6-6 personal best also join the action.  Garnett was third at the Division 1 finals while also qualifying for the Southern Section Masters Meet, Meanwhile, as sophomores, Tyler Cash of Canyon (CC) and Garrett Ostrinski of Grand Terrance also made the Division 2 Finals a year ago.   Cash is already off to a great start in 2019 with a 6-5 performance at the Winter Championships!

In the Pole Vault, Marina's Skyler Magula moves to Division 1, which probably made many in Division 2 smile.  But, in from Division 1, Chino's Matthew Garcia and his 14-6 personal best replace Magula.  One of the most versatile athletes in the Southern Section, Ventura's Derek Pekar was fourth in 2018.  He cleared 14-feet but looks to improve upon his 14-3 effort from his sophomore season.  Johnny Ma (13-8 best) of Arroyo and Kyten Arthur (13-9 best) of West Torrance also qualified for the Division 2 finals in 2018.   Newport Harbor's Tommy Cook also cleared 13-8 last season. 

The horizontal jumps are headlined by defending champs, Elsinore's Kamari Maddox in the Long Jump (22-9.25 legal best) and Mater Dei's Titan Ruotolo (46-7 legal best) for the Triple Jump.  Maddox, also a CIF Finalist in the 100 and 200 meters, qualified for the Southern Section Masters Meet in 2018.  But, he will need to hold off Ventura's all-everything, Derek Pekar.  Pekar was runner-up in 2018 (22-10.75 legal best), but placed fourth at the Masters Meet and advanced onto the California State Meet.  Maddox and Pekar were two of only three underclassmen that return from the 2018 Masters Meet.  Meanwhile, also in the mix is Lawndale's V'Ante Moore who was fifth in 2018. 

While Ruotolo was sixth in the Long Jump (21-8.25 legal best) in 2018, he rebounded to capture the Triple Jump title and advance to the SS Masters Meet.  Off the radar under last year's postseason, Arlington's Temi Jekayinfa was third at the Division 2 Finals with a personal best of 44-5.5.  One of the best all-around jumpers in the Southern Section, the aforementioned San Marcos' Jaydn Mata was a Division 2 finalist in both horizontal jumps.