California Track Athletes Make An Impact At VA Showcase

Among the impressive performers from California at the VA Showcase were (from left) Alex Mainvielle, Leland Lieberg and Takiya Cenci. (Photos by Mary Ann Magnant)

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While the fate of the 2021 CIF track and field season has yet to be determined, athletes are still finding ways to train and, during the MLK Holiday weekend, more than two dozen of them found a place to put their training to the test.

Yes, it required a trip across the country, but the VA Showcase in Virginia Beach, Virginia indoor track and field meet provided an opportunity for athletes from a handful of California club teams to pull on their spikes and take the line. 

California athletes came away with three division titles -- two from relays and one individual -- and more than a dozen top-20 marks.

Leland Lieberg, a junior at St. Francis (SS) competing unattached won the High School Boys triple jump at 43-02 and placed third in the Invitational high jump with a best of 6-4. Both are PRs for the versatile athlete who also ran a PR in the 55-meter hurdles.

California club relay teams were impressive, led by the girls 4x400 relay team representing the Fresno Flyers. The team of Tiara Adeniji, Tatum Zinkin, Tatum Holloway, and Takiya Cenci crossed in 3:55.83 to win the High School division race. That time would have placed sixth in the invitational race. Watch The Race

The Cal Rising Stars, a club from Inland Southern California, won the Invitational division girls shuttle hurdle relay. The CRS team that included Jordyn Grady, Ajah Anderson, London Davis and Caelyn Harris cleared the barriers in 32.51 to beat Motor City Track Club (33.57).

Codeblack Elite, based out of Calabasas, placed third in the High School division 4x200 in 1:44.34 anchored by Brown University commit Mya Collins.

Individually, West Torrance (SS) senior Alex Mainvielle, competing for the Pacific Coast Shockwaves, dropped his two-mile PR of 9:24.60 while placing seventh in the the boys Invitational race won by Sam Rich of South Carolina in 9:05.14. Mainvielle's time ranks U.S. No. 5 in the senior class. Watch The Race

The aforementioned Cenci, a junior at Clovis North, ran her PR for 300 meters of 39.91 while placing second in her Invitational race and ninth overall. Cenci's time ranks fourth in the U.S. in the junior class.

Madison (SD) senior Aysha Shaheed, a Cal signee competing for Havoc Track Club, ran PRs in both the 55-meter dash (7.06) and 200m (24.86). She placed third in her race and 11th overall in the 200 and earned a spot in the High School division final of the short sprint where she placed fifth in 7.06. Watch the 55m Final Race

Grady (pictured), a senior at Upland (SS), equalled the No. 7 time in the 55m hurdles (33 inches) in the Invitational girls prelims. Anderson, Grady's teammate at Cal rising Stars and classmate at Upland, placed 12th in the Invitational girls high jump (5-0). 

Among other standouts:

  • Anthony Taylor, a senior at Cathedral (SS) competing for New Image Training Group, ran his PR in the 55 hurdles, 7.68, while placing 16th in prelims.
  • Taylor joined NITG teammates William Mullins, Steven Marks and Gustavo Orendain in the Invitational boys 4x200. The team of Cathedral HS athletes placed fourth in 1:31.32, two seconds ahead of Cal Rising Stars. The team of Matthias Allison, Marks, Taylor and Mullins placed third in the 1600m SMR (2-2-4-8) in 3:47.31.
  • Also from New Image Training Group, freshman Bodi Ligons ran 1:11.57 in the high school boys 500m. That time ranks U.S. No. 2 in the class. Mullins, a junior, went 36.15 in the high school boys 300m to win his race.
  • Also in the 55m hurdles, Upland sophomore, Kai Graves-Blanks had the 19th fastest time (7.76) and Calabasas senior sprinter Zach Winger, competing for Codeblack Elite, took a rare trip over the barriers, winning his race with the No. 21 time of the meet (7.84) out of 62 competitors. Blanks time ranks No. 1 U.S. in the sophomore class.
  • Jailen Burrell, at junior at Upland competing for Cal Rising Stars, was 10th in the Invitational boys long jump (21-4.25).
  • Adin Dibble (pictured), a junior at Sonora (SJ) competing unattached, placed 11th in the High School boys 3200 (9:30.92) out of 96 runners. Dibble's time ranks U.S. No. 9 in the junior class.
  • Bryce Brock, a junior at Cathedral Catholic (SD) competing for Havoc Track Club, was 12th in the High School boys 55m dash (6.54) out of 117 competitors.
  • Simone Smith, a freshman at Upland competing for Cal Rising Stars, placed seventh in the High School girls triple jump (36-4.50).
  • A pair of freshman twins competing for Codeblack Elite, Zoe Ray and Lahela Ray were among 228 girls competing in the 300m dash. Zoe ran 42.06 to place second in her race (to Havoc TC senior Summer Sergeant) and Lahela ran 43.44 and won her race. Those are the Nos. 6 and 10 times in the U.S. in the freshman class.


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Actions photos by Mary Ann Magnant. Relay group photo with coach Josh Norman courtesy of Fresno Flyers.