RECAP CA Winter Champs Wraps Up January Track and Field

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ARCADIA -- The winter track and field season peaked Saturday with the CA Winter Championships at Arcadia HS. The event was a culmination of more than a dozen qualifier meets around the state beginning as early as December 18. Event qualifiers converged Saturday in a tune-up for what promises to be a stellar outdoor season.

(All athletes competed unattached. High school affiliations are provided for identification purposes.) 

St. John Bosco (SS) senior Camryn O'Bannon was the meet's lone triple winner, scoring golds in the long jump (23-7/0.3), triple jump (46-9/nwi) and by running the anchor 400m leg on the winning 800m sprint medley relay team (1:31.71). That lineup of senior Jabari Bates, senior Rayshon Luke, senior Jaden Smith, and O'Bannon, just missed the 2016 meet record of 1:31.63.

Double championship medal winners were Servite (SS) senior sprinter Max Thomas, Long Beach Poly (SS) senior jumper Lauren Reed, Murrieta Mesa (SS) senior thrower Cade Moran, and Menlo (CC) junior distance runner Justin Pretre

Thomas, a USC recruit, won the 150-meter dash in 15.90 and the 300m dash in 33.52. He ran 6.95 in the final (6.94 in the early-meet prelims) to place fourth in a 60-meter dash competition won the Long. Beach Jordan (SS) sophomore Jordan Washington (6.87/-0.5). Thomas was pushed in the 150 by Long Beach Poly (SS) soph Jaelen Knox (15.99), with St. John Bosco's Jaden Smith third in 16.34. It was Knox again in the 300s, just 0.07 back with Smith again in third (34.33).

It didn't matter that Reed was just getting started as a triple jumper or didn't have specialty shoes, following up her winning 18-7 (nwi) long jump with a 38-4.50 (0.0) triple. Golden Valley (SS) senior Kylee Davis was second in the long jump (18-4) and Los Alamitos (SS) senior Mackenzie Kirk was the runner-up in triple (37-1.50).

Moran, a Michigan recruit and one of the nation's top returners in the shot put, won that event with a best of 61-9 and followed that up with a 62-9.50 best in the weight throw. South Pasadena (SS) senior Nikolas Iwankiw was second in the shot (57-7) and Ontario Christian (SS) senior Christian Burroughs was the runner-up in the weight throw (58-7.50). 

Pretre, who competed alongside his freshman brother Landon, took top honors in the 1500-meter run (3:58.99) and anchored the distance medley relay team to a 10:43.86 winning time. His younger bro opened the DMR, running the 1200-meter leg, followed by senior Nik Khuntia on the 400 leg, junior Aiden Deffner on the 800 leg, and Justin Pretre on the anchor 1600. In the 1500m, which went off more than two hours before the DMR, Justin Pretre flirted with the 2016 meet record of 3:57.66 while holding off Vista Murrieta (SS) senior Lance Denhalter (4:00.43) and Cypress (SS) senior Justin Singer (4:00.70).

While a number of athletes threatened existing meet records, the only one to fall was in the girls 4x800 where the stellar distance group of girls at JSerra (SS) knocked nearly 20 seconds off the 9:33.20 mark set in 2017 by Great Oak. JSerra's lineup of senior Ashlee Gallegossophomore Georgia Jeanneretsophomore Brooke O'Brien,  and junior Anastasia Snodgrass stopped the clock at 9:13.99 in a field that included a strong La Canada quartet, anchored by sophomore Arielle McKenzie (9:37.92), as well as a second foursome from JSerra (9:47.12). Gallegos, who earlier in the meet ran a close second to McKenzie in the 1500m (more on that below), opened the 4x8 with a stellar 2:14. Jeanneret split 2:20, O'Brien split 2:19, and Snodgrass brought it home in 2:20. 

On the topic of McKenzie, one of the state's top 2024 distance runners, she took on a strong field in the 1500 and led the parade by the end, crossing in 4:34.28, less than four seconds off the meet record. Obviously warming up for their record performance later, JSerra's Gallegos was second (4:35.81) and teammate Jeanneret was third (4:42.45).

Golden Valley was well represented at the meet, led by junior Ta'Ahjah Fann, who won the 60-meter dash in 7.61 seconds. Canyon Country Canyon (SS) sophomore Mikaela Warr was second (7.70) and Thousand Oaks (SS) senior Shelby Richmond was third 7.76. Those girls reached the championship race from early-meet qualifying heats. 

The girls had 10 60m heats and the boys had 12. Also earning top-three medals in the boys 60m behind Jordan High's Washington were Simi Valley junior Jaelon Barbarin (6.91) and Marshall Fundamental senior Logan Davis (6.92). 

The 60-meter hurdles also held early-meet heats to determine a championship field. And once that was set and they got back on the line, it was all Dario Rock in the boys final. Rock, a senior at St. Francis (SS), running against a -0.6 wind, dropped an 8.22 PR, 0.11 seconds faster than his pre-meet qualifying best. Crean (SS) senior Jack Fairchild was second (8.53) and Ramona (SS) senior Gavin Hanes was third (8.62). 

In truth, the second-fastest 60m hurdles time of the day didn't come from the championship race, but rather from a heat of the indoor pentathlon where Cajon (SS) senior Seth Johnson ran 8.28. Johnson, a Cal recruit, won the five-discipline event with 3428 points to beat St. Francis (SS) senior Milo Orona (3323) and three others. 

One of those pentathlon competitors was the aforementioned Hanes. Not only did he compete in four of the five events of the multis, he also competed in two events in the regular meet, the 60m hurdles and the pole vault, where he placed second with a clearance of 14-11. (Roosevelt (SS) senior Hunter O'Brien won the pole vault at 16-1, two inches shy of equaling the 2017 meet standard.)

Lexi Evans, a Cal-Poly SLO-bound senior at Scripps Ranch (SD), was the girls winner in the pole vault at 13-2, a personal record. She was the only one left in the competition after clearing 12-11. She pushed the bar just over her PR and made it on her second attempt. She then went after 13-6, three inches over the meet record, but missed on all three tries. 

In the boys pole vault, Hanes went out at 15-3, leaving only O'Brien, who hadn't missed in five bars through 16-1 but wasn't able to keep that going, falling short at what would have been a meet record of 16-4. 

Portola (SS) senior Aryan Shrivastava came in with the lowest qualifying height, 5-10, achieved at a qualifying meet that was equal parts frustration and motivation. Shrivastava turned that fuel into a 6-5 clearance and the title. Clovis North (CS) senior Tyler Gonos also cleared 6-5 for second and Tamalpais (NC) junior Drake Miller went over 6-3 for third. Shrivastava had just two misses through 6-5, Gonos had four.

The meets top boys clearance in the high jump was by Cajon's Johnson, who got over the bar at 6-5.50 in the pentathlon competition.

In the girls high jump, Valley View sophomore Amara Thomas equaled the meet record, clearing 5-5 on her final attempt to edge Golden Valley sophomore Meagan Humphries (5-4). Humphries didn't have a miss through four jumps before stalling out at 5-5. Thomas had a miss each at 5-0 and 5-2, was clean over 5-4 but missed on her first two attempts at 5-5 before clearing it on her final jump. 

San Diego Section hurdles champion Charlize James continued her stellar winter with a title in the 60m hurdles. The San Diego State recruit went 8.73 (-0.2) in the final to beat Orange Vista (SS) junior Kailah McKenzie (8.84), and Lincoln (SJ) junior Yvette Harris (9.00). 

Joining Evans and James taking titles back to the SDS, is Helix sophomore Laraigh Allen, who wo the 150-meter dash (18.36/0.2), and Hilltop senior Jimmy Byland, who won the 3K (8:45.08). Thousand Oaks' Richmond was second in the 150 (18.95) and Golden Valley junior Adonijah Currie was third (18.70).

Mia Chavez, a senior at Chino (SS) headed to Arizona for college, won the 600 meter run (1:35.33), with Edison (CS) senior Aliyah Williams second (1:36.67) and College Park (NC) junior Jessica Chisar third (1:37.27. 

Yutaka Roberts, one of the state's elite middle-distance runners, showed his late-race prowess in pushing past Long Beach Poly sophomore Xai Ricks to win in 1:19.53. Ricks crossed in 1:19.92 with Dana Point (SS) senior Jai Dawson third in 1:20.07. 

Other relay winners included the Orange Vista girls 4x200 team of Vanessa Chavira, Kailah McKenzie, Mercy Ehiemere, and Lilana Quezada (1:46.04); the Cathedral boys 4x200 team of Ekene Onwaeze, Antonio Walton, Jake Preston, and William Mullins (1:28.79); the Great Oak girls DMR team of Joelle Upshur, Divine Torza, Cailin Osborne, and Kelli Gaffney (12:53.23); Great Oak's boys 44x800 team of Ramses Cortes, Michael Rodriguez, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Mark Cortes (8:12.97), and Carson's girls 800 sprint medley (1-1-2-4) team of Kaitlyn Williams, Samira Stevenson, Leondra Amos, and Anise Becker (1:50.10),

Other event winners included Golden Valley junior Adonijah Currie in the 300 meters (38.97), Claremont sophomore Denise Chen in the 3000 meters (10:12.13), Etiwanda junior Sinaiah Pointer in the girls shot put (38-00), Pleasant Grove (SJ) senior Hailey Hernandez in the girls weight throw (45-5), and Trinity Pacific Christian (NC) junior Giovana Pelascini in the girls indoor pentathlon (3007 points).