ARCADIA Recap: Historic Times for California Boys

In a meet relatively absent of the fireworks and overall depth experienced in decades past, the boys invitational 3200 meters reminded everyone of the magic that continually ensues in the Arcadia Invitational.

In our meet preview, we shared... "We might not see the meet record of 27 boys from 2017 eclipsing the nine-minute mark, but be prepared to watch at least 14 achieve the feat (that's our prediction)!  Also, prepare to watch some history set from the Newbury Park crew."

Scoffed by some for being "...overly optimistic" -- we were nearly spot on with 15 boys breaking the nine-minute landmark!

And the history that Newbury Park boys continue to imprint in the national history annuls continues to turn heads, even to those that have witnessed, first hand, the very best ever in California history over the past 50 years!

Newbury Park became the first program ever to have two boys eclipse 8:50 in the same race, and the Panthers had four boys joining the sub-9 club ... in the same race. It's never been seen on the national prep level stage.

After frustratingly witnessing so many races turn to negative split affairs all throughout the meet, and fall short of expectations, coach Sean Brosnan made sure his boys, headed up by junior Colin Sahlman and sophomore Lex Young, heard him as they took over the pacing chores immediately into the race.  

Surging through the first half with a brisk 4:22, the duo proceeded to run away with consistent 66-second laps midway through the historical affair. Despite late surges from Jesuit senior Ajani Salcido (8:51.32) and Clovis sophomore Christopher Caudillo (8:51.98), the two moved away with Sahlman holding off his teammate for the 8:43.42 victory, maintaining his hold as the national leader and moving further up the all-time national rankings!   Sahlman moved up with the ninth-fastest 3200 meters in California State history. 

But, Lex Young not only pushed him all throughout to the line with his 8:43.71 -- he also established a new sophomore class national record in the process. He easily broke the sophomore class mark established by Laguna Beach legend Eric Hulst in 1974. Hulst ran an 8:50.2 for the full two-mile, converting out to an 8:47.6c.  Young also moved all the way up to 12th on the California all-time state list!  

Despite the lack of spectators, California State Meet announcer Tim O'Rourke on the microphone providing the background vocals for the race, 11 others crossed under 9-minutes with two more from Newbury Park, sophomore Leo Young (8:55.82) and junior Daniel Appleford (8:56.77).

If you're keeping track at home, all four are underclassmen!

So many great historical performances went down in that one race -- yet, all seemingly in the shadow of Newbury Park.

With 17 boys now having eclipsed that mark in the past two months, 12 of the top 16 from the invitational race will return in 2022. Pasadena junior Isaiah Givens (9:00.43), the only boy ranked in the top five in all three distances going into the weekend was just outside the top 15. Providing additional insight into the talent returning, Givens came in with an 8:57.27.   

Bellarmine's Nolan Topper (8:52.95) and Colin Peattie (8:56.73) joined Galen Topper, who had already achieved the feat with his 8:59.29 performance two weeks ago.

Bellarmine is only the second program ever in California history to have three boys break nine minutes in one season!

Who was the first? Of course -- Newbury Park. Adding Nico Young and Jace Aschbrenner to the list, the program has now witnessed four boys running under 8:50 and seven under 9:01 in the past year alone.

Not to be overlooked is the ascent of Clovis' Caudillo and his 8:51.98. As of a month ago, he was one of the best in his class for the state with a 9:17.25 best. Now one of the best sophomores in national history, he ran the fourth-fastest time in state history for his class.  

With Salcido of Jesuit crossing in 8:51.32, he moved all the way up to third on Jesuit's epic school record list while junior Braden King (8:56.89) dropped over ten seconds off his previous best to become the school's eighth runner in school history to break nine minutes (Walt Lange at Jesuit has coached 13 boys under 9:05).

Beckman's Joshua Schuld maintained contact with the leaders all throughout as he established an 8:56.34, breaking into the top-20 on the all-time Orange County list. Coming into the 2021 season, his personal best was 10:04.07.

Bella Vista junior Sean Lacey was in the front pack for most of the race, coming home with an 8:57.13 with his personal best coming into 2021 sitting at 9:52.91. He improved his lifetime best from 9:13.74.

Also breaking into the sub-9 club for the first time were: Lick Wilmerding junior Alex Mader (8:57.34), Sanger junior Emmanuel Salas (8:57.73), St. Mary's junior Daniel Winter (8:58.02) and Sage Creek senior Bryce Gilmore (8:58.82). The three underclassmen all improved by over 12-seconds.

Reflecting back to 2017, when 27 boys went under nine minutes, only seven of those hailed from California. Five boys achieved the feat in 2014 while seven boys did it in 2015 and again in 2016. But, only three boys broke through in 2018 while in 2019, Nico Young (8:40.00) was the only Californian under nine minutes!

... 15 in 2021!

NEVER had 15 boys from the same state EVER run under the nine-minute standard in any one race in national history! 

Where most years, the California boys are severely overshadowed by those from out of state - this was truly a moment where the California boys earned (and stole) the spotlight!  In times when it has been difficult to celebrate, this one race was truly one of the shining moments in California state history.

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Mark Gardner is a regular contributor to MileSplitCA and serves as the Southern Section editor.