Mia Chavez of Chino was a double winner at the Arcadia Invitational. (Raymond Tran photo)
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ARCADIA -- Aside from the historic and epic performance put forth by the boys in the Invitational portion of the 3200 meters, they were NOT alone in providing additional fireworks at the Arcadia Invitational.
Crescenta Valley's Mia Barnett added another chapter to her extraordinary senior campaign! With no reservations, she made it clearly evident that she was going after the California all-time state record for the 3200 meters, held by Thousand Oaks' Kim Mortensen (9:48.59).
Barnett catapulted herself into the national spotlight in recent months with monster performances that placed her atop the national leader lists in the 1600 and 3200 meters but created a stir with her solo 9:52.23 effort three weeks ago, moving her up to fourth on the all-time California lists!
From the gun, Barnett exploded away from a very talented group of girls, coming across the first 1200 meters just under 3:41 and right in that 9:50 range. With a 50-meter lead over the chase pack and crossing the halfway point at 4:56, she continued to stay on pace! But, a 77-second fifth lap along with a 78-second split on the following lap saw that sub-9:50 goal slip away. Continuing to surge forward for the victory, Barnett's 10:01.18 performance attached yet another headline to her already distinguished resume! Her effort was the fifth-fastest in Arcadia Invitational history!
Meanwhile, as Barnett established such a large lead, creating her own spotlight, Sophia Nordenholz made it intriguing over the last three laps as she continued to close the gap. The junior from Albany High (just north of Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay area), came through the 1600-meter mark with the chase pack at 5:06. With a 10:29.83 best coming into the meet, she began clicking off 74-second laps. Closing with a 2:27 over the last two laps, Nordenholz's breakthrough performance moved her up to 12th on the all-time Arcadia Invite list with her outstanding 10:05.91 runner-up finish. This also elvated the relative unknown all the way up to 15th on the all-time California state list and fourth in the nation for 2021.
Mira Costa's Dalia Frias broke the school record with her 10:15.61 while Hannah Fredericks of Saugus delivered another outstanding performance, improving to 10:21.54! Buchanan (CS) sophomore Sydney Sundgren established a 23-second improvement with her 10:25.25 while Audrey Allen of Miramonte (NC) came through with a 10:26.06 (18-second improvement). Aliso Niguel's Emily Richards improved to a 10:28.37 lifetime best while Harper McClain of St. Helena (NC) crossed with a personal best of 10:28.83.
Also creating her own headlines and coming in well under the radar, Chino junior Mia Chavez had a huge day at Arcadia with TWO breakout performances and victories! Competing in the first heat of the daytime Mile, she allowed others to pace her through the first two laps at 2:32. Surging ahead of the pack with Hannah Riggins, the Del Norte (SD) sophomore would cross in 4:59.21, Chavez exploded for a 66-second last lap to cross in a personal best of over at 4:55.72! With this being a 14-second personal best, her controlled last lap was a preview of what would be in the Invitational portion of the 800 meters!
After two callbacks, the Invitational portion of the Girls 800 meters saw Mia Chavez and JW North's Makayla Browne come through just under 66 seconds. But, the aerobic strength of Chavez propelled her for the negative-split 2:10.62 victory, moving her up to second in the California state rankings. La Canada's Ellaney Matarese moved up from seventh with 250 meters to go for the 2:11.61 runner-up finish. Browne crossed in third at 2:11.96.
In the Invitational Mile, Mayfield's Audrey Suarez led from the go in her wire-to-wire 4:52.74 victory. The Stanford-bound senior went unpressed all throughout. Harvard Westlake (SS) junior Daniela Quintero left the chase pack with 350 meters to go, closing the gap over the last lap to come home with a personal best of 4:58.14. Meanwhile, Valencia (SS) senior Sydney Makar surged over the last 250 meters to also eclipse the 5-minute mark with a new lifetime best of 4:59.27 for third.
In the Invitational Boys Mile, no one in the field chose to push the pace for the first two laps! The group came through the 600 meters at 1:42, leaving them well north of a 4:30 pace. At that point, Newbury Park sophomore Aaron Sahlman took over the pacing, yet still leaving the group at 2:15 with 800 meters to go! The pack responded to Sahlman's surges with a 63-second third lap with Royal's Angus Fitzgerald pulling alongside Sahlman on the backstretch while Tyler Iden of Archbishop Mitty (CC) rode the rail on the inside. With Iden challenging, Sahlman would not be denied in bringing home a 57-second last lap for the 4:14.07 victory! Iden crossed at 4:14.94, while Buchanan's Bo Olsen moved up snag third in 4:16.79, just ahead of Fitzgerald at 4:16.91.
Finally, the favorite in the Boys Invitational 800 meters was Antonio Abrego of Golden Valley. Racing to a personal best of 1:52.05 on this same track two weekends ago, he had a deeper field of talent to navigate this time through. Long Beach Wilson's Phillip Jefferson took out the pace in aggressive fashion, coming through the first 300 meters at 40 seconds but with Abrego right on his outside shoulder. Abrego wisely surged to the front before the curve to take the lead after the 54.5-second first lap. It would be a lead he would not relinquish as he powered away from the entire group with a state-leading 1:51.33 performance! This moved him up to sixth in the nation while Royal's Matthew Russell (1:53.77) placed second just ahead of Great Oak's Mateo Joseph (1:53.97).
In the Rising Stars Mile, College Park sophomore Alex Lamoureux stayed with the pack for the first 1000 meters. But once he began to surge away from the group, he never looked back in his wire-to-wire 4:20.41 victory. Great Oak sophomore Mark Cortes moved up from sixth with only 150 meters to go for second place in 4:23.69 for the full mile.
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Mark Gardner, who was among those bringing great energy and atmosphere over the PA at Arcadia, is a regular contributor to MileSplitCA, and serves as the Southern Section editor.