A list of 10 just isn't enough to contain all of the amazing highlights by boys in the Southern Section including those by (from l-r) Colin Sahlman, Delaney Crawford, Isaiah Givens, and Phillip Jefferson. (Photos by Lizette Adams and Raymond Tran)
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Now that the 2021 season is complete, we look back at the Southern Section and list 10 highlights that stood out for us. The majority of highlights come from underclassmen so get ready for an even better 2022 season!
1) Newbury Park's Distance Crew Dazzles
This group established new precedents in the sport on the national level for not only being the first program to have four boys break 4:10 in the 1600 meters and 9:00 in the 3200 meters in the same season, but they accomplished it in the SAME RACE! The quartet of junior Colin Sahlman (8:43.42), sophomores Lex Young (8:43.71), and Leo Young (8:55.82) along with junior Daniel Appleford (8:56.77) all crossed under 9-minutes at the Arcadia Invite. In June, Sahlman and the Young twins joined forces with sophomore Aaron Sahlman to all break 4:10 for the mile at the Music City Track Carnival in Nashville. They combined for an average of 4:07.88, converting to 4:06.45 for 1600 meters! In addition, Lex Young's performance in the 3200 is the fastest ever as a national prep. On paper, these five boys would have captured the CIF-SS Division 1 boys team title in 2021 in scoring over 60 points.
2) Mater Dei's Domani Jackson Ties State Record in the 100 meters
The junior from Mater Dei rolled to a 10.48 wind-legal title at the Division 2 finals but little foresaw that Jackson had another gear in him as he erupted for a wind-legal 10.25 victory at the CA State Championships. Planning on enrolling early at the University of Southern California in 2022, he knew going in that this would be his last shot -- he now sits at the top, joining the 1985 performance by Hawthorne's Henry Thomas.
3) Serra's Rodrick Pleasant Breaks Two Sophomore Class Records
The Serra sophomore started the season late but ended in a flurry! In shadowing Jackson on his record-tying performance in the 100 meters at the CA State Championships, Pleasant crossed in 10.32, establishing a new sophomore class state record. But he was using that as a warm-up as he exploded off the curve to a dominating 20.59 victory in the 200 meters just over an hour later! That performance is the seventh-fastest ever in California State History while breaking Olympian Michael Norman's 20.82 mark from 2014. Pleasant's runner-up effort in the 100m is the 12th fastest while the 100/200 times combined for the single-greatest day in state history.
4) Colin Sahlman wins Gatorade Athlete of the Year
As mentioned above, the junior's accomplishments stood out on their own beyond his team. Being recognized as the 2021 Gatorade State Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Sahlman became the first junior in California state history to break 4:04 and 8:45 in the same season. In doing so, he became only the fifth Californian prep in history to achieve the feat. Only two Californians, German Fernandez, and Cooper Teare have gone under 4:03 and 8:42 as Sahlman will return in 2022 with 4:03.58 and 8:43.42 credentials. His 2021 best in the 3200 meters ranks as the 10th-fastest in state history.
5) Upland Sets State Record in Shuttle Hurdles Relay
The all-underclass quartet from Upland made it clear that their goal at the Arcadia Invite was to break the state record in the Shuttle Hurdles Relay. And ... they did just that! Actually, the group shattered the previous record of 59.17, held by the Millikan squad that went all the way back to 1983! Competing solely against the clock, Kai Graves-Blanks, Davis Davis-Lyric, DeQuan January, and Delaney Crawford crossed with a 57.75!!! Now, the group seeks the national record in 2022!
6) Upland's Delaney Crawford
Before he, unfortunately, went down with a hamstring injury at the Division 1 prelims, Crawford assembled the strongest resume of anybody across the board. Going into the postseason, he was ranked in the top 10 in the section in the 100m (10.55w), 200m (21.49), 400m (49.79), 110m hurdles (14.08w), and 300m hurdles (36.64). Meanwhile, he was the foundation for both relay squads that ended the season ranked in the top five for California. Most impressive was his 36.64 debut in the 300 hurdles, run in a dual meet, that ended the 2021 season atop the state-leader board.
7) Murrieta Mesa's Cade Moran
The junior ended 2021 as the top overall thrower in the Southern Section. Moran's shot put best of 63-6 from Outdoor Nationals improved upon his already state-leading mark while his 177-7 seasonal best in the discus throw ended the season ranked fifth in California. Moran returns in 2022 as the No. 1 thrower in the state in both the discus and shot.
9) Wilson's Phillip Jefferson Leads LB Wilson to Division 1 Title
Leading the Bruins to their first title since 1991 and second in school history, Jefferson joined an elite crowd in capturing the 400 meters (48.28) and 300m hurdles (37.73) titles. Only Reggie Wyatt of La Sierra accomplished the feat in 2009. Jefferson capped off the afternoon in anchoring his group to the 4x400 title in running to the fastest time (3:15.26) in California and the sixth-fastest in the nation. More inspiring is how Jefferson achieved it all in a much more condensed schedule. Any other year, he would have run those last three events in a three-plus hour window whereas, in 2021, he mastered all three in less than two hours!
10) The Division 1 High Jump Final
Taking place before any track events had begun allowed the duo of Darius Hill (Vista Murrieta) and Marcus Monroe (Ayala) to capture the stadium's well-deserved attention. The last time you had two boys poised to go over the 7-foot bar at the Division 1 finals ... you have to go back to 1994! Both cleared 6-10 with Hill defending his title from 2019 with fewer misses!
EXTRAS: (We could not help ourselves!)
Pasadena's Isaiah Givens
Any other year, Givens' performances would warrant more attention. In 2021, the junior erupted into the national spotlight with 1:53.01/4:07.06c/8:53.29 bests to rank as one of the most productive seasons across the board of any Californian prep ... ever! He becomes only the sixth underclassman to break 4:08 and 8:54 in the same season in Southern Section history.
Rancho Cucamonga's Tristyn Flores Leads His 400-Relay Squad
Flores not only rolled to the Division 1 title for the 100 meters (10.35w), he anchored his 400-relay squad to the top time in California at 41.20.
Burrough's Eli Gault-Crabb Over 16-6 in the Pole Vault
Elevating up over the 16-foot pole for the first time ever, the senior also cleared 16-6 to place an exclamation on his CIF-SS Division 1 title. This was only the fourth time in the history of the division (43 seasons) that this height had been cleared as Gault-Crabb ended the season with the second-best mark in California.
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If you have any other notable marks or students you would like to add to the above list, please do so on Twitter while tagging us @MilesplitCA.