Mt. SAC Relays Ready to Roll - Friday Preview

The 61st edition of the Mt. San Antonio College (SAC) Relays begins on Thursday afternoon with the collegiate ranks.  One of the highlights of this meet is that high school athletes get to compete among some of the best collegiates and elites.   

Some of California's finest preps will take the stage beginning on Friday afternoon, beginning with the Invitational portion of the Girls 4x800 Relay. While we await the completion of Hilmer Lodge Stadium on the Mt. SAC campus in Walnut, the relays will be held one last time at El Camino College.  With this being spring break for many schools and Easter weekend, along with many leagues already running their League Prelims and/or Finals, the field is thin compared to years' past.  But the high school portion still features some of California's best as they prepare for the upcoming postseason. 


Friday's portion is dedicated to the distance preps. Here's a closer look at those events.

Girls 4x800 (5:25 pm)
Our national leader, Great Oak, is the heavy favorite.  The Wolfpack's 9:10.24 was capped by a strong 2:13 leg on the anchor from senior Fatima Cortes (far right in Zoe Medranda photo from).  Dana Hills comes in with a seasonal best of 9:21.55, which currently placed them 14th in the United States and third in California.  San Diego Section powerhouses, Point Loma and Torrey Pines will look to go under 9:30. 

Boys 4x800 (5:40 pm)
Great Oak's boys will take to the track but will have league foe, Murrieta Mesa, to hold off.  The Rams are perhaps the most improved distance group in the Southern Section this past year.  Great Oak is currently fourth in the nation with a 7:49.96 while Mesa sits at 11th with their 7:54.22 effort at the Arcadia Invitational two weeks ago.  Both are second and fourth, respectively, in California.  Mira Costa and Dana Hills will look to stay with these Riverside County powers.  Both have not run their 'A' squads yet this season.  Claremont and West Torrance will also look to break the 8-minute mark as well. 

Girls Mile (5:55 pm)
The Mile features a loaded field of some of California's very best!   Buchanan's Meagen Lowe steps onto the track with a 4:51.01 from the Meet of Champions Invitational Mile a month ago.   Lowe qualified for the 2018 State Meet Finals in the 1600 and 3200.  Right behind her in that same race at MOC, freshman Sofia Abrego has shown no fear in taking on California's best and crossed the 1600 at 4:53.55.   Earlier that day at the same meet, Ayala's Mikaela Ramirez walked away with a 4:52.91 seasonal best.  Coming off a freshman campaign that saw her finish third at the 2018 California State Meet, Chino Hills' Jacqueline Duarte owns a personal best of 4:44.87 and rolled to an impressive 4:55.06 victory in the Mile at Arcadia two weeks ago.  Back from injury this past cross country season, Oak Park's Sylvia Cruz-Albrecht and her 5:00.46 seasonal best adds to the loaded field.  A sleeper here could be 2018 State Meet Finalist La Costa Canyon's Jessica Riedman. She raced to a 5:02.54 Mile at Arcadia, but brings her 2:13.52 leg speed to the oval.  Monte Vista (Danville) junior, Kelli Wilson drives down south after a solid 5:01.26 effort at Stanford three weeks ago.   Finally, Brea Olinda's Whitney Valenti looks to break 5:00 while impressive last weekend with her 5:01.67 performance.

Boys' Mile (6:00 pm)
This field is loaded with depth!  JSerra's Peter Herold has been in another zone this season, coming off a 4:11.50 victory at the Orange County Championships last weekend, moving him up to third in California.  Teammate and 2018 State Meet finalist and Footlocker National Qualifier in Cross Country, Anthony Grover is fourth in the state with his 4:13.27!   Meanwhile, West Ranch's Isaiah Seidman is coming back from a 1:51 state-leading effort in the 800 meters, and to further emphasize the performance, it was in a dual meet!  He has a seasonal best of 4:15.10, which is eighth in the state.  Meanwhile, La Costa Canyon junior, Caleb Niednagel in tenth in California with a 4:15.58.  Keeping up this display of depth, Ayala's Andrew Martinez is 11th with a 4:15.70 seasonal best.  Renewing their San Diego section rivalry, Crawford's Nader Ali (4:17.82) and Mission Hills' Jonathan Velasco (4:17.91) will use the pace to flirt with the 4:15 threshold.  Claremont's Jacob Moran (4:18.21) further cements the talented field while West Ranch's Evan Bates brings his 4:18.53 personal best from last year onto the track.  Finally, 2018 State Meet finalist in the 3200 and a two-time NXN Qualifier in cross country, Rubidoux's Kevin Ramos is preparing for when he steps back onto this same track at the divisional and sectional finals next month.   

The entire field has gone under 4:24!  

Girls 3200 meters (6:10 pm)
Eighth place at the 2018 California State Track Meet, Buchanan's Corie Smith toes the line with a seasonal best of 10:22.63.  Smith is currently fifth in California for the event.  But finishing behind her at Arcadia with a 10:26.64, Oak Park's Sarah Shulze was also a State Meet finalist for the 3200 in 2018.  Shulze warmed up for this race by running a 4:53.38 PR for 1600 in winning the title at the Ventura County Championships. These two will drive the pace up front while everybody else is trying to break 10:40 for the first time this season.   A third State Meet qualifier from a year ago, Monte Vista's Kelli Wilson impressed two weeks ago with a 10:34.28 seasonal best.  One of Arizona's best, St. Michael's Ali Upshaw owns a 10:47.50 seasonal best.   Simi Valley's Jill Walker raced to a 10:52.25 at Arcadia and seeking to break her 10:42.33 personal best.   Claremont will be well represented led by Sydney Hwang (10:34.14) and Kalinda Reynolds (10:46.83 best). 

Boys 3200 meters (6:25 pm)
Mission Hills' Jonathan Velasco has been on a roll and brings in a seasonal best of 9:07.27.  A Foot Locker National finalist this past December, he is currently eighth in California for the 3200 meters.  Tesoro's Bryson Crites has a seasonal best of 9:13.38 and is coming back from a 4:18.14 last weekend.  Looking to keep with these three is one of the most improved in the Southern Section.  Harvard Westlake's Keon Mazdisnian emerged with a 9:16.77 last month.  In his first year of competing in the 3200, Simi Valley junior Ian Gerth has been solid and with a seasonal best of 9:24.08.  Valencia's Gage Davenport has improved down to a 9:26.63 this season.  Redlands East Valley junior Matthew Casillas impressed with a 9:27.20 three weeks ago.  The rest of the pack is looking to break 9:30 for the first time this season. 

Girls 4x1600 Relay (8:50 pm)
Great Oak will, once again, look to monopolize the distance relays at Mt. SAC.  Led by Fatima Cortes and Arianna Griffiths, who both ran under 4:50 a year ago, the crew has the talent to flirt with the 20-minute barrier.  They are currently second in the nation, and looking to go under 20:20 to become the new national leader.  Watch for their 'B' team as the talent is there to flirt with the 21-minute barrier.  Seventh in the nation, Walnut is led by Emma and Chloe Arriaga.  They raced to a 21:08.84 two weeks ago.  Led by Fiona Hawkins, Newbury Park will also try to break 21 minutes along with the Quintero-led Harvard Westlake group.   With Tiani Goeson improving with each week, Serrano will improve upon their 21:21.34 from Arcadia two weeks ago.

Boys 4x1600 Relay (9:10 pm)
Great Oak features eight boys that have all gone under 4:26 for the 1600 meters.  In regard to their 'A' team, they have the talent to go under 17:20 with all four dipping below 4:21 this season.  Keep in mind that Laguna Beach is the national leader with a 17:27.00.  Great Oak is fourth in the nation while their 'B' team can very well break 17:45.  Fifth in the nation and running to an easy victory in the Seeded Section of the Arcadia meet, Roosevelt looks to improve upon their 17:49.72.   Staying within Riverside County, Murrieta Mesa will come forward with their best and compete up front.    Alexis Garcia will lead his Newport Harbor squad while Centennial of Nevada will work to break the 18-minute barrier.  If equipped with their best, West Torrance, Ayala and Claremont may surprise and compete with the top three squads.