PREVIEW: Top Returning Girls in the San Diego Section

2022 San Diego Section Track and Field - Top Girls To Watch

Poway sophomore Tessa Buswell (left) and Mira Mesa senior Mallory Asis are among the top returning track and field athletes in the San Diego Section for the 2022 outdoor season. (Angel Pena photo)

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With perhaps the best 1-2-3 punch in the state in the 100-meter hurdles in Scripps Ranch's Aaliyah McCormick (13.85), San Diego's Charlize James (14.10), and Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman (14.47), the San Diego Section girls figure to fare well this season.

Add in the likes of 14-foot pole vaulter Allison Leigh of Del Norte, 12.04 Madison sprinter Amirah Shaheed (sister of unofficial 2021 state champion Aysha Shaheed) and middle to long-distance runners like Poway's Tessa Buswell, Rancho Bernardo's Jacey Farmer, and Sage Creek's Stormy Wallace, not to mention 5-6 high jumper Kelly DeJong of Maranatha Christian, and the Border Section is solid.

Here's a closer look at 16 of the top returning girls track and field athletes in the San Diego Section. Athletes are listed alphabetically.

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Mallory Asis (Mira Mesa, Jr.) - Distances

After a sizzling 2019 season, Asis battled injuries and certainly didn't have the cross country season she hoped for.  But times of 10:37.70 and 4:59.33 late in the 2021 track season showed she is still a major threat at either distance.


Alyssa Bean (Poway, Jr.) - Sprints

Although she was among the leaders all year, Bean came on to clock her best 200 time of 24.15 (third among returnees in the state) in the 200 in the SDS D-1 finals and a 55.13 in the 400 at the unofficial state meet (fifth among returnees).


Tessa Buswell (Poway, So.) - Distances

Not your more traditional mile-2 mile runner as she is most dangerous in the 800/1600 combo. She ran 2:11.61 in the state meet (fourth fastest returner) and 4:56.90 in the 1600m in D-1 at the SDS finals. Pick your poison.


Madeline Cramer (Bishop's, Sr.) - Sprints

Maybe the sprints. Maybe not after a quality cross country season where she placed fourth in D-V at the the CIF-State Championships in November. She certainly has the speed as bests of 24.97 in the 200 and 55.58 in the 400 make her a threat in both but she'll also move up at least to the 800.


Kapiolani Coleman (Cathedral Catholic, Jr.) - Hurdles

A superb multi-sport athlete (track, volleyball), Coleman ran the third fastest time of the season in the 300 hurdles at 43.24 in the Division 2 finals behind McCormick's 42.77. She's stronger and ready to make her mark.


Kelly DeJong (Maranatha Christian, So.) - Jumps

The soph just loves to challenge gravity.  In the high jump, she scaled 5-6 in a league cluster meet, in the pole vault she went 12-feet in another Pacific cluster and she added a 16-4 in the long jump.

Lexi Evans (Scripps Ranch, Sr.) - Pole Vault

The Cal Poly-SLO recruit is among five returning 13-foot-plus vaulters in CA, including four in the SDS, the hotbed of girls pole vault in the Golden State. Evans has been the best of the group so far this winter with a section win at the national pole vault summit and a 13-2 PR and title at the CA Winter Championships. 

Jacey Farmer (Rancho Bernardo, Sr.) - Distances

The easy-to-spot 6-foot-2 BYU signee regained her freshman form and then some in cross country, placing fifth in the state in Division 1. She prefers the 800 and 1600 where as a freshman she ran 2:13.15 and 4:53.75, the latter in the state championships. Last year she ditched soccer and by season's end was at 2:14.54 and 5:01.34.


Charlize James (San Diego, Sr.) - Hurdles

The section showed its depth when McCormick visited family in Texas as planned after the SD Open, leaving the unofficial state meet wide open. James, who ran in McCormick's shadow, stepped out and won in a PR of 14.12, wind-legal. She also clocked a 43.75 in the 300-meter hurdles.


Allison Leigh (Del Norte, Sr.) - Pole Vault

Although Ashley Callahan stole the spotlight last year, Leigh pushed her to the section record at 14-6 by clearing 14-feet in the same D-1 championships. In fact, Callahan had to clear better than 14 to win. Leigh is the state's top returnee by a full foot.


Aaliyah McCormick (Scripps Ranch, Sr.) - Sprints-Hurdles

The rest of the state didn't get to see that much of McCormick who finished strong to set the section 100-meter hurdle record at 13.85. Add in a 42.77 for the 300-meter hurdles and she's the top returner in two events. She's also a potential scorer in the 100 with a best of 12.00.


Hannah Riggins (Del Norte, Jr.) - Distances

The longer the better for Riggins who has bests of 2:13.54 (Arcadia), 4:59.22 (Palomar League finals), and 10:53.14 (dual meet). Coming off a quality cross country season, too.


Cheyenne Roberts (Westview, Sr.) - Jumps

With seven meets at 5-foot or better, Roberts saved her best for last as she scaled 5-5 in the San Diego Open Championships. Very consistent.


Annika Salz (Torrey Pines, Sr.) - Distances

Roaring to a 10:35.93 (eighth among returnees in the state) and 4:57.48 for 1600 in the D-1 finals, Salz is looking for some fast early-season times.


Amirah Shaheed (Madison, So.) - Sprints

Younger sister of unofficial state champ Aysha Shaheed, Amirah flashed her speed with a 12.04 to finish second in the San Diego Section Open Championships last June while getting her 200-meter time down to 25.52. Her dad, Haneef, coached state champions Kenan Christon and her sister, Aysha.


Stormy Wallace (Sage Creek, Sr.) - Distances

While some of the other runners decided not to go to the unofficial state championships at Arcadia, Wallace welcomed the chance and showed why as she won the 3200 in 10:31.65 and is the No. 5 returner in that event. She also has run 5:03.92 for 1600.

Steve Brand is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplitCA with a focus on the San Diego Section.

Photos by Angel Pena