2020 Southern Section Girls Preview



In 2019, it was a three-team race for the title between Long Beach Poly, Roosevelt and Great Oak.  Despite losing the division's top distance runner, the women of Great Oak were still in the mix to defend their 2018 title. But, Roosevelt was able to bring home the victory in the 4x400 relay and secure its first-ever team title. They had several close calls over the past ten seasons but finally broke through for that first place plaque. 

Long Beach Poly suffered an untimely false start late in the meet that opened the door for the Mustangs. These three squads will once again be in the mix as Poly's girls will always be in the hunt for the title. They have been the most dominant program in the section over the past 25 seasons in claiming 18 titles since the 1992 season while earning the plaque for nine consecutive years from 2007 to 2015.  One of the most talented athletes in the section, Jade McDonald, transferring upgrades their stock for the 2020 season. But, on paper going into the season, Great Oak holds a slight advantage.  Projected for major points in the jumps and pole vault combined, they look to keep the tradition alive in the 1600 and 3200 meters with the return of Tori Gaitan.       

The 100 meters is wide open while the 400 meters is perhaps, the strongest event that Southern Section boasts.  Somewhere in between, the 200 meters returns a slew of top names that made an impact in 2019.  

The top four, all State Meet qualifiers, return in the 400 meters. Dazzling us in the postseason as a freshman, Millikan's Samarra Monrroy (No. 6 in photo) roared to the victory (54.16) at the Masters Meet before earning the runner-up medal at the California State Meet. But, she was also runner-up at the Division 1 finals to Quartz Hill's Iman Babineaux (No. 5 in photo). With a 54.21 best from the Masters Meet, she advanced on to place fourth at the State Meet.  A great league battle broke out in Riverside County when Roosevelt freshman Naomi Johnson pulled off the upset (54.38) to outlast Corona's Egbe Ndip-Agbor (54.49).  Both advanced on to the State Meet, which was the second straight trip for the Harvard-bound senior from Corona.  Watch for Beckman's Jocelyn Niemiec, who was seventh in 2019 with a 55.98 effort. The junior impressed and captured the 300 meters at the Winter Championships last week.  The top four in the section hail from Division I.    

A Division 3 CIF Finalist in 2019, Nakyia Buckner has transferred from La Sierra to Centennial. She peaked with a 56.41, fourth-place finish in the 400 meters in 2019. She also placed fifth (24.96w) at the Inland Empire Championships.

The aforementioned Ndip-agbor is the defending champion in the 200 meters (24.12). She advanced to the State Meet final where she took eighth place. Her main challengers to the crown will be Etiwanda's Kennedi Porter, Oxnard's Arissa Thompson and Valencia's Chrystal Aluya. One of the top freshmen sprinters in the section in 2019 is ML King's Raykiyat Olukoju. She qualified for the Division 1 finals in both events a year ago, qualifying for the Masters Meet in the 200 meters.  Eight of the top ten marks in the section, under all conditions, are right here in Division I. 

In the 100 meters, Etiwanda's Porter and Upland's Jordyn Grady will renew their Baseline League rivalry.  While Grady owns the fastest mark (wind-aided 11.77), it was Porter who excelled in the postseason. Third, at the divisional finals, Porter placed eighth at the Masters Meet. Olukoju, Aluya, and Thompson will all be competing for the title in the 100 meters. 

The versatile Rachel Glenn of Long Beach Wilson added the 300-meter Hurdles to her resume of State Championships.  Her 41.01 ranked second in the United States in 2019. In one of her multiple Division 1 titles in 2019, Glenn (at right) also rolled to a 14.32, third-place finish at the Masters Meet in the 100 Hurdles. She just missed qualifying for the State Meet finals. While she captured three individual titles on her own at the 2019 finals, it will be a tougher task in the shorter hurdles.

Jade McDonald of Long Beach Poly is now the slight favorite in the 100 hurdles. Runner-up at the Division 2 finals while competing for Calabasas in 2019, she brings a 14.26 wind-legal best while placing eight at the State Meet finals in the event. In 2018, McDonald earned a third-place finish in the event while competing for Mater Dei.   

Upland's Jordyn Grady was fourth at the State Meet in the 300 hurdles (42.80 best) and runner-up to Glenn at the divisional finals.  Asjah Anderson and Caelyn Harris may step in to earn points in the 100 Hurdles for Upland while DeMia January is also one of the top returners in the 300 hurdles (44.74).  She also owns a 44.10 best for the 300 hurdles. 

Roosevelt's Myah Hatcher rolled to a 44.20 best at the Masters Meet while just missing advancing to the State Meet finals a week later. Murrieta Mesa's Logann Williams ran her best in the postseason with a runner-up finish in the 100 hurdles (14.61) and a seventh-place finish at the Masters Meet.  Rancho Cucamonga's Deaira Jackson is a two-time finalist in the 100 meter hurdles and qualified for the Masters Meet in 2019. In 2018, she was a finalist in the 300 hurdles with a best of 44.08. 

Woodbridge moves back to Division in 2020. Phoebe Ladd and Madison Lyon were both finalists in 2019 for the 100-hurdles while their fellow Warrior, Emily Waller placed fourth at the Division 2 finals in the 300-hurdles (44.47 best).  

Can anybody break up Great Oak's stranglehold on the 1600 and 3200 meters? Losing Gaitan during the 2019 season was a huge reason why they were not able to defend their team title. While she wanted to compete in the postseason head coach, Doug Soles, wisely held her out to patiently prepare for her senior season. Meanwhile, they return Audrey Dang (5:03.47/10:38.31), Arianna Griffiths (4:56.82/10:46.82 in '19/pictured at right), Aubrie Nex (2:19.25/5:04.88) and welcome in a talented freshman class. Dang (UC Davis) has a nice break-out season in 2019 that continued over into the cross country season. By the way, Gaitan (Northern Arizona University) is said to be as healthy and strong as she's ever been. 

But, Saugus and Newbury Park look to steal the show in the distances in 2020. Julia Pearson (10:46.96), Hannah Fredericks (5:01.88/11:07.16) and Dani Saucedo (2:16.43) represent the Centurions. Hailey Rutter is also a sub-10:50 athlete for Saugus.  Meanwhile, Newbury Park captured the Division II State Title this past cross country season garnering an NXN berth! As one of the most improved distance squads in the nation, Fiona Hawkins (2:18.02/4:56.01) was a divisional finalist last year.   Also, watch a vastly improved Sam McDonnell while Archana Mohandas (10:45.67) will be one of the best in the 3200 meters. Transferring from Westlake, Hailey Golmon is a three-time Division 2 finalist in the 800 meters. In 2019, Golmon qualified for the State Meet with a best of 2:12.02 coming at the Masters Meet.  The quartet shined at an all-comers meet a month ago for the 1500 meters, equating their combined efforts to a sub-5:05 average for the full 1600 meters!

Chino Hills junior Jacqueline Duarte (at left in the photo) is a two-time Division I champion in the 1600 meters and the defending State Champion in the event, but it remains to be seen if she can recover from a torn ACL injury that ended her cross country season this past October.  While Duarte waited to rev it up in mid-April in recent years, at this time, we do not see her competing in the 2020 postseason.  

The D1 distance competition got quite a bit more competitive when Mia Barnett transferred from tiny Village Christian in Sun Valley to nearby Crescenta Valley. Barnett (at right in photo) is a two-time State Meet medalist at 1600m on the track in addition to being a three-time D4 champion in cross country. Her 4:46.12 PR in the four-lapper while placing fourth at State ranks No. 5 among returners in CA. She has won D4 titles in both the 1600 and 3200 each of the last two years.

San Clemente's Hana Catsimanes is the defending 3200-meter champion. Wake Forest-bound, she was the runner-up at the Masters Meet with a best of 10:28.55. A State Meet qualifier as a freshman, Mira Costa sophomore Dalia Frias (4:51.47/10:49.45) also looks to return to Fresno in late May. Santa Ana's Maria Hernandez (5:01.43/10:48.14) is also one of the top returners in the distances.  In the 800 meters, Vista Murrieta's Makayla Fick and Quartz Hills' Sarah Collier are two of the top returners with both recording sub-2:15 effort in 2019.  

Both champions in the throws have graduated. Lakewood's Cherish Washington (pictured) ranks as our top returner (40-0.5), as she was runner-up in 2019. While she owns the second-best returning mark in the Discus (141-7), see gathered valuable postseason experience as she placed tenth at the State Meet.  Marina's Alejandra Rosales (143-9) just missed the State Meet a year ago in finishing seventh at the Masters Meet. 

Rancho Cucamonga's Abby Venglass is a two-time Masters Meet qualifier in the shot put. She looks to match her lifetime best of 40-7.5, which he recorded in 2018. Julia Richey of Newbury Park placed third a year ago with a 39-3 best, which also qualified her for the Masters Meet. Deyanara Cendejas placed seventh in 2019 for the shot put, while her Warren Bears return a trio of top throwers. Beckman's Saloni Khandhadia qualified for the State Meet (137-10) in the discus while another top returner is Abby Klinge (137-8) of Trabuco Hills. 

With the shot put being relatively down as a whole in the section, the top seven returners derive from Division I while also boasting the top four in the section for the discus. 

Vertical Jumps
Long Beach Wilson's Glenn is a two-time champion in the high jump and was the State Meet Champ in 2018 and runner-up last year. Glenn looks to match her personal best of 5-11 this season. Etiwanda's Aaliyah Mendoza and Aliso Niguel's Kendra Duffey both cleared the 5-6 bar in 2019.  Mendoza placed sixth in the division last year.   One of the more versatile athletes in the section and headed to compete at Oregon State, Woodbridge's Madison Lyon was fifth in Division II in 2019. 

Aliso Niguel's Morgan Flynn (center in photo) is the defending champion in the pole vault, and top returner with a 13-0 best. The University of Michigan-bound senior is a two-time State Meet qualifier, placing sixth in 2018 and eighth in 2019. Third, in 2019, Kaitlyn Swenson of Great Oak (left in photo) elevated up over the 12-6 bar while just missing qualifying for the State Meet finals.  Those in the hunt for medals include Vista Murrieta's Sierra Meier (11-7), Aliso Niguel's Dylan Beveridge (11-2), Foothill's Ashley Harritt and San Clemente's Sierra Adams. If Tesoro's Ellison Colarossi competes for Tesoro this spring, she will also be a factor as she elevated over the 11-11 bar for a third-place finish at the Winter Championships.

Horizontal Jumps
Upland's Caelyn Harris (pictured) cemented in the national conversation with her 20-08.5 wind-legal performance to capture the Long Jump State Title as a freshman in 2019. Last weekend, she revealed that she is already just as good with her 20-04.5 effort at the Winter Championships.   

But looking to mix things up in Division I this spring, Poly's McDonald, who transferred after a year at Calabasas, brings her incredible skills to the Beach. She was the Division II CIF Champion in the long jump and triple jump. At State, McDonald peaked well with her fourth-place finish in the long jump and placed seventh in the triple. She earned a sixth-place medal as a freshman in the triple while attending Santa Ana Mater Dei. 

Summer Stevenson carries on the family name in this event for Great Oak. She finished ninth at State in 2019 after earning a third-place medal at the divisional finals. She measured out to 18-06.50 in the long jump at the Winter Championships and looks to be a force in that event in 2020.  Her teammate, Sami Bollinger, is a two-time CIF finalist in the triple jump but is still working her way back from injury.

Also in the triple jump, Jayla Flowers of Burbank elevated her game last postseason. She improved from third at the divisional finals to a surprising fifth-place finish at the State Meet. She also placed fourth in the long jump. 

Moving back into Division 1, Woodbridge's Lyon, an Oregon State signee, was runner-up at the Division 2 finals in 2019 before advancing on to earn a sixth-place medal at the State Meet in the triple jump.  Lyon (pictured) was also eighth at the Masters Meet in the long jump after placing second in the event at the divisional finals. 

Upland's Kerrington Smith also qualified to the State Meet in the triple jump and placed second at last year's finals.  Six of the top seven Southern Section returning marks in the triple jump reside in Division I.