RECAP: CIF-Southern Section Division 1 Prelims

Mia Barnett, pictured running the 3200m at Arcadia, took on four events at the CIF-SS Division 1 Prelims on Saturday at Trabuco Hills High School. (Raymond Tran photo)




Crescenta Valley's Mia Barnett continues to garner the headlines and deservingly so! We are in the midst of watching perhaps, the greatest California female prep distance runner achieving feats never seen. Saurday, at Trabuco Hills High School, Barnett added another accomplishment onto her already robust resume in qualifying for all three distance races for this Saturday's Division 1 Final.

We cannot recall a time where this has been accomplished at the Division 1 level that consistently poses the deepest fields of all divisions on a yearly basis. Shutting it down over the last 200 meters, Barnett ran controlled 2:30-2:23 negative splits in her qualifying 4:53.04 for 1600 meters. She created an immediate gap for the 800, in a seemingly comfortable 2:11.99 effort while coming back with 5:21-5:18 splits in her 10:38.97 performance for the 3200 meters. Her day not being done, she anchored her 4x400 relay squad with a 59-second last lap as her squad fell just short of qualifying there.

Will she go after history and try to win all three next week? ...stay tuned!!

While celebrating the highs on the day, unfortunately, another headline was punctuated with disaster. As it seems to be the case at the divisional prelims every year, a heavy favorite does not qualify as was the case in Upland junior Delaney Crawford. After anchoring his 400 relay squad to a comfortable 41.80 victory to open up the day, Crawford grabbed at his hamstring, midway through leading his heat of the 100 meters while visibly wincing as he crossed the line. Unable to line up for the 300 hurdles, where he is the California state leader at 36.64, he was also not able to participate in the 1600 relay in which Upland is fourth in the state. The rest of the group managed to qualify but due to teammates (not approved to be on the infield) being warned by officials on two occasions to not run alongside the team during the event, the boys' 4x400 team was disqualified for next week's final.

Losing Crawford for the 100m, 300 hurdles along with the loss in the 1600 relay has huge implications in the team title race. As Upland was in a position to defend its 2019 Division 1 championship, this development throws everything back to the field as Great Oak, Long Beach Poly and Long Beach Wilson now join them up top in the team title projections.

More to come in our Division 1 Finals Preview coming on Tuesday.

In regard to the Division 1 team title battle, the Long Beach Poly girls are more set to claim the title than they were going into the action yesterday. Jade McDonald led the way in qualifying individually in her four events. Playing a pivotal role in Mater Dei's Division 2 girls title in 2018 as a freshman, she may be the catalyst for Poly claiming their first title since 2017. Heading off to the University of Iowa this fall, McDonald created fireworks in her fourth event with a strong surge over the last 50 meters for a lifetime best of 43.57 in the 300 hurdles. This is the top mark in the Southern Section for 2021 and third in California. She also had the top qualifying marks in the 100 hurdles and triple jump while qualifying fifth in the long jump (the same event she placed fourth in at the 2019 State Meet).  

McDonald and Barnett could very well be attempting to capture seven of the 14 individual events next week!

With so much attention being paid to the talent on the track, there was one period of the afternoon that was stolen by none other than Westlake's Paige Sommers!  The Duke-bound senior pole vaulter, who had established a new national record at 14-9 while competing at her league final, opened her division prelims competition with a first-attempt clearance of 13-10. With that, she smashed the previous Division 1 record of 12-10 (Redondo Union's Amari Turner in 2018). Sommers proceeded to take some solid attempts at eclipsing her own American National Record but nonetheless, she deservingly earned the spotlight away from the finish line. Next week, she will look to claim her third divisional title (she won D2 championships in 2018 and 2019).

Vista Murrieta's Darius Hill, defending 2019 Division 1 champion in the high jump and long jump, easily advanced in both events. In 2021, he adds the triple jump to his docket for next week's final.

ML King's Brandon Benson and Rancho Cucamonga's Bryson Williams also advanced in both horizontal jumps. Meanwhile, Ayala's Marcus Monroe qualified in the Long Jump and High jump with Hill and Cajon junior Seth Johnson (more to come on him).

Murrieta Mesa junior Cade Moran, California's top shot putter, comfortably advanced in both throws. Jordan's Xavier Heard along with the sophomores from Westlake, Adam Laycock, and Redondo Union's Kai Deines also advanced in both events.  

For the girls' throwing events, Lakewood's Cherish Washington advanced in both along with Trabuco Hills' Abby Klinge and Pacifica's Kathleen Nelson.   Washington's lifetime best of 151-11 in the Discus moved her into the Division All-Time Top Ten List.

Reflecting back to Poly's McDonald advancing in both the long and triple jump, she will be joined by the Great Oak duo of Summer Stevenson and Sami Bollinger. ML King's Alyssa Hope also joins the trio in both events. Mckenzie Kirk of Los Alamitos also advanced in two field events in qualifying for the triple and high jump.

Orange Vista sophomore Kailah Mckenzie advanced in the high jump and long jump while also placing herself as a surprise favorite to capture the title in the 100 hurdles. The Inland Empire sensation has been off the radar thus far ... until Saturday's prelims!

In that pole vault competition headlined by Sommers, the average qualifying mark the past three years has been 11-0. In 2021, it took 11-3 to advance.

Back to the track, Phillip Jefferson of Long Beach Wilson put on a show. With his 48.27 being the top time for the 400 meters in the Southern Section, he easily advanced in 48.38. He successfully navigated one of the toughest doubles on the track in returning to the 300 hurdles with a lifetime best of 38.33. Now the favorite in both events, that mark moved him up to fourth in California. For good measure, he also led his team to the top qualifying time for the 1600 relay (3:18.69) as their 3:17.74 continues to be the state leader.

One of the top athletes in the Southern Section, Cajon junior Seth Johnson fell just short of advancing in four individual events! After easily qualifying in the high jump and long jump, he looked sharp in his lifetime wind-legal best of 14.32 in easily capturing his heat of the 110 hurdles. Right alongside Trabuco Hills' Carson Kaminski (38.60 qualifier) in the 300 hurdles, Johnson collided with the seventh hurdle. Miraculously getting back up to still finish with a 40.67, he is currently the first alternate in the event for next Saturday.

Johnson's sophomore teammate, JeyQuan Smith advanced in both the 100 and 200 meters. Others that qualified in both short sprints include Trystan Flores (Rancho Cucamonga), Malik Harness (Long Beach Poly), Davon Banks (San Jacinto), Lovewyn Don-Willies (Orange Vista), and Saheed Free (Highland). With six altogether reuniting in both events, Flores ran to new seasonal wind-legal best of 10.73 and 21.83.  

Surprisingly, Christopher Coates of Upland was the only boy to qualify in the 200 and 400 meters.

Redondo Union junior Eve Divinity shined as the top qualifier in the long jump while also winning her heat in the 100 (12.13w) and placing second in the 200 meters (24.69w). She also helped her squad to victory in the 400 relay where their 47.84 seasonal best qualified fourth overall.

Etiwanda's Kennedi Porter and Kayla McBride of Ayala also qualified in both the 100 and 200 meters. Porter placed third for the 100 meters in 2019 and was a Masters Meet qualifier.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt's Naomi Johnson, Sadia Green of Long Beach Wilson, Yucaipa's Eryn Burke, Samarra Monrroy of Long Beach Wilson, and San Clemente's Caroline Hawkes all qualified for the 200/400 combo. Monrroy was the 2019 State Meet runner-up in the 400 meters as a freshman.

Mira Costa's Dalia Frias, Fountain Valley's Kaho Cichon, Ashlynn Viramonte of Katella and Westlake's Ruby Sirota-Foster all qualified for the 800 and 1600 meters along with Barnett.

Joining Barnett in the 1600 and 3200 meters, Claremont freshman Denise Jie Yi Chen and the Saugus duo of Hannah Fredericks and Isabella Duarte all advanced. Fredericks especially impressed in surging away from the pack on command in both of her winning heats as evidenced in her 5:25-5:20 splits in her 10:44.87 qualifying effort in the 3200 meters.

Unlike the girl's distance events, the one boy to advance in the 1600 and 3200 meters was Beckman's Zeid Hussain. Meanwhile, the only boy to qualify in the 800 and 1600 meters was Rancho Cucamonga's Nathan England.

In the boys' distances, Great Oak set themselves up well in advancing the top two seeds as Mateo Joseph (1:55.42) and Kyle Reden (1:55.49) captured both their heats in controlled fashion. Their teammate, Austin Montez, sat back and unleashed over the last 200 meters in claiming the top qualifying time in a lifetime best of 4:12.23.

Beckman's Joshua Schuld comfortably moved away from the pack in his 4:13.23 to capture his qualifying heat while Arjun Vadgama of Loyola brought home a 60.3 last lap in his 4:13.51 effort.  Despite the top remaining time in the section for the 3200 meters, Schuld dropped the 3200 meters leaving the event wide open to capture next week.  

For the 3200 meters, Newbury Park sophomore Aaron Cantu was among those in his program left home to compete at the CIF-SS divisional finals. He outkicked Hussain to capture the second heat in a seasonal best of 9:19.87, laying claim to the best time of the day. ML King's Francisco Zavaleta patiently waited to move away to the victory in 9:20.32 in the first heat.  

Aside from the setbacks experienced from Upland, the Hurdling Highlanders truly shined. The trio of Ajah Anderson, Jordyn Grady, and Cienna Norman-Thomas qualified in the 100 Hurdles, all winning their respective heats. Anderson and Norman-Thomas returned to easily advance in the 300 Hurdles. Those same three also qualified in the 400 relay while Anderson will compete in four events, adding the High Jump to her schedule.

The Upland boys did not disappoint in the hurdles as well. Sophomore Kai Graves-Blanks (second in the state with his wind-legal 13.95) advanced as the top qualifier in the 110 hurdles while DeQuan January and Davis Davis-Lyric also advanced. Graves-Blanks moved into the Top Ten All-Time list for Division 1 with his wind-legal 14.12.  He and Davis-Lyric also advanced in the longer hurdles while all three all represent the 400 relay as well.  


We will provide a Division 1 Finals Preview this Tuesday while also diagramming all eight Team Title Battles for each division and gender on Thursday!


Mark Gardner is a teacher, former coach, in-demand announcer and a regular contributor to MileSplitCA, serving as the Southern Section editor.