Among 21 track and field and cross country girls to watch in 2021 are (l-r) Sofia Abrego, Caelyn Harris and Alexandra Klos. (Photos by Patrick Corsinita, DeAnna Turner, James Leash)
- - -
Welcome to the new year. And hopefully with the new year comes a rare winter cross country season and a regular track and field season. Hopefully.
Here are 21 athletes to watch in '21 across those two sports.
Let's preface this list by saying 21 is a very small number when talking about elite girls athletes across a huge state like CA. Frankly, that's a small number when pulling from just the Southern Section, and that also goes for most of the other sections. This state is rich with talented athletes.
If we were to re-create this list seven months from now, how many new names would warrant addition? With that, we challenge the young ladies listed below to maintain their 21-in-'21 status and challenge the rest of the girls in CA to crush it and earn one of these spots.
21 GIRLS TO WATCH IN '21
(Athletes are listed alphabetically)
Sofia Abrego (Jr./Granada Hills/LA) -- Swept 800-1600-3200 at LA City Championships as a freshman. Ranks among the best in her class, including 4:51.80 for 1600m and 4:53.55 for the mile. Foot Locker National finalist.
Asjah Atkinson (Sr./St. Anthony/SS) -- Third at CIF-State TF in the 100mH as sophomore in 2019. Also placed third at CIF-SS Masters in the long jump and sixth at State.
Mia Barnett (Sr./Crescenta Valley/SS) -- 3x Southern Section Division V XC champion; 2x State D-V XC runner-up; two-time State Meet medalist 1600m. Foot Locker West champion and FL National finalist.
Faith Bender (Sr./Liberty/CS) -- CIF-State TF Championships runner-up in the discus throw and fifth place in the shot put as sophomore. Considered among the top combo throwers in the U.S.
Ashley Callahan (Sr./Rancho Bernardo/SD) -- CIF-State Meet champion in the pole vault in 2019 and Pole Vault Summit champion in 2020.
Riley Chamberlain (Jr./Del Oro/SJ) -- 2x State Meet D-III XC Champion; fourth at State in the 3200m as a freshman. Her 4:44.80 for 1600m ranks No. 3 U.S. among returning girls.
Jacqueline Duarte (Sr./Chino Hills/SS) -- Defending CIF-State TF champion for 1600m and two-time State medalist at that distance. Her 4:42.58 from the 2019 State final ranks No. 1 U.S. among returning girls.
Caelyn Harris (Jr./Upland/SS) -- Long jump champion at CIF-State, CIF-SS Divisional and CIF-SS Masters as a freshman in 2019. Has PR of 20-8.50, which ranks U.S. No. 1 among returners.
Alexandra Klos (Jr./Vista del Lago/SJ) -- Defending CIF-State D-II XC champion whose 16:57.00 for 5K from the Clovis Invitational ranks CA No. 1 among returners.
Harper McClain (Sr./St. Helena/NC) -- Defending CIF-State D-V XC champion. Seventh at State for 3200m as a sophomore. Ran 16:48 for 5K on the track this fall.
Jade McDonald (Sr./Long Beach Poly/SS) -- Finalist in three events at the CIF-State TF Championships in 2019, placing fourth in the long jump, seventh in the triple jump and eighth in the 100m hurdles.
Elise Miller (Sr./San Pasqual/SD) -- Placed third at CIF-State TF in the triple jump as a sophomore and eighth in long jump. Increased TJ PR to 40-5.50 during abbreviated 2020 season to rank No. 3 U.S. among returners.
Reese Renz (Sr./Liberty/CS) -- State Meet medalist in both hurdles as a sophomore. PR of 42.24 for 300mH ranks tied for No. 5 U.S. in the class and No. 8 overall among returners.
Brooke Secreto (Sr./Foothill Tech/SS) -- Defending CIF-State D-IV XC champion, whose 17:33.40 from State ranks No. 10 for 5K among CA returners and No. 4 in the senior class.
Aysha Shaheed (Sr./Madison/SD) -- San Diego Section sprint champion and 2019 CIF-State Meet medalist in the 100m and 200m as the only sophomore to reach both finals.
Paige Sommers (Sr./Westlake/SS) -- CA record-holder in the pole vault with a 14-foot, 6-inch clearance last February, the highest ever nationally by a high school junior and the second highest (at the time, now third) all-time by a high school girl.
Audrey Suarez (Sr./Mayfield/SS) -- 2x CIF-State TF medalist for 1600m; CIF-SS TF Masters champion for 1600m as a sophomore in 2019; CIF-State D-IV XC champion in 2018.
Stormy Wallace (Jr./Sage Creek/SD) -- Scorer on two-time SDS and State XC team champion, who ran 17:17.15 for 5K this fall to rank among the elite returners.
Samantha Wallenstrom (Sr./Marin Catholic/NC) -- State Meet 800m champion as a sophomore whose 2:08.57 is CA No. 1 and top 15 U.S. among returners.
Bella Witt (Sr./Calabasas/SS) -- Among the state's elite hurdlers, who ranks No. 1 U.S. among returners for 60mH indoors.
Katriina Wright (Sr./University City/SD) -- CIF-State TF 400m champion as a sophomore whose 53.93 ranks CA No. 1 and U.S. No. 13 among returners.