Having been the first major invitational canceled two years ago at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the Redondo Track & Field Festival is back and stronger than ever! With 77 schools and over 3,100 athletes ready to compete, we anticipate some huge marks to come out of the meet with several of the state's best programs and individuals on the docket!
Several of the top sprint programs will be on grand display as the Grizzlies of Central High will travel down south to take on the Southern Section powerhouses of Roosevelt, Long Beach Poly, Long Beach Wilson, and Golden Valley! Throw in Clovis North and a number of some of the state's top individuals sprinkled in and we will see the greatest display of depth and overall talent of any early season invitational thus far in 2022.
A case in point will come in the 4x100 Relay where Central (41.92) is ranked third in California while Roosevelt of Eastvale (41.98) has run the fifth-fastest time thus far in the state. Clovis North (42.20) comes in at #6 while Granada Hills rounds out a solid field, ranked tenth in the state. Also watch for Simi Valley, who displayed sub-42.50 talent last weekend.
In the 100 meters, Central's Cameron Tarver gets into the blocks with the top wind-legal best of 10.53 from last Spring. But, he will have some of California's best in Simi Valley's Jaelon Barbarin, Servite's Max Thomas, Jaelen Knox of Long Beach Poly right beside him along with Roosevelt's Tony Smith. Clovis North's Nickolas Miller and Jake Parnagian while Tarver's teammates, Imari Conley and Jeremiah Walker (pictured above) add additional strength to this slugfest of sprint supremacy.
One of the unique nuances of the Redondo Festival is that they do not contest the 200 meters, so the same talents from the 100 often double up for the 400 meters as well. But, this time around, Liam Gair of Villanova Prep (48.31), Culver City's Zaire Mystic Waring (48.36), Leroy Crook (48.51) of Long Beach Wilson, and Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills (48.54) all await. USC-bound Thomas of Servite has indicated that he plans to focus primarily on the 400 in 2022, so we could very well see our first sub-48 second effort during the regular season this weekend.
Issac Lewis of Long Beach Wilson has added the hurdles to his repertoire in 2022 and with great early-season success! Jeremy Frank of Thousand Oaks and Lucas Weaver of Notre Dame (SO) will challenge him in both. Watch for Loyola's Levi Biery in the 110s while Roosevelts Julius Cheek looks to dip under the 39-second threshold for his first time.
Moving to the field events, Great Oak's JC Stevenson will headline in both jumps. The latest in the family dynasty of dominating the jumps in the Southern Section will make his 2022 debut in the triple jump but in the long jump, he will take on Long Beach Poly's Javon Hampton and Golden Valley's Elijha Ellis. Both measured out over 23-feet two weeks ago and look to prove the legitimacy of those marks this weekend against Central's Tarver, Simi Valley's Joey Nations, and Golden Valley's Jared Giles.
A great battle is also on tap in the tap for the boys' pole vault as Roosevelt's Hunter O'Brien (16-1 lifetime best) will look to eclipse the 16-foot bar once again while David Brock (15-9) of Los Alamitos, will try to join him! Redondo's Dylan Curtis is coming off a 14-4 lifetime best last weekend as well.
The distances will be packed as well as the Friday night 3200's traditionally spawn incredible performances and the deepest fields in the early season.
In the 800 meters, Thacher's Ellis Delvecchio is coming off a 1:55.37 effort last weekend while Ethan Florez (Canyon, Ana.) is also off to a great start as he rolled to a 1:56.83 two weekends ago! Mira Costa's Max Levin crossed with a 1:57.00 in a weekday meet last week but Wilson's Nico Colchico debuted with a 1:57.68. His teammate, Marcell Francis-Mitchell is also ready to roll, possessing impressive numbers from the 400 meters up to the 1600!
For the Saturday morning 1600s, most of the top names have yet to unleash in 2022. Loyola traditionally debuts well at Redondo as Dylan Bissell, Richard Moreno, and Jake Ratkovich all look to break 4:25! Evan Hild and Tyler Kaan are one of the best duos in California, both capable of going under 4:20 while Redondo's Christoph Waligorski will also be in the mix up front. Our sleepers here could very well be Matthew Frey of West Torrance and the aforementioned Florez of Canyon.
The Friday evening 3200 meters always excels, as the 'B' heat tends to reveal sub 9:30 efforts with the 'A' heat prompted to exceed! Only a sophomore, Millikan's Jason Parra steps on the line with the top time of 9:06.50, run just last weekend! The Loyola trio we mentioned look to also be up front but also watch for Agoura's Ethan Godsey, who is coming off a sub-4:20 performance last weekend. With all coming off of great Cross Country seasons, we have a number of sleepers including Hart's Jaden Wiley, Great Oak's Carson Smith, Ayala's Mason Ma, Cathedral's Emmanuel Hernandez, and Redondo's Waligorski.
Redondo's Kai Deines looks to secure victories in his own rings in both throws. One of the top juniors in the nation, he is coming off a 59-2.5 performance that moved him up to third in the state. In the same competition, Great Oak's Aiden Pastorian also posted a lifetime best of 58-9.75 (fifth in CA). Travis Zavala of Canyon (Anaheim) comes in with a 54-10.25 best. Terraine Wiggins of Golden Valley is off to a great start as he will also step into the ring with 51-3.5 best in the Shot Put but will be the greatest challenge to Deines as he comes in off a 169-7 effort in the Discus. Deines is ranked fifth in California with his 174-5 best.
The girls will have no problem matching the talent we see on the boys' side!
The Mustangs of Roosevelt are fresh off their state-leading 47.14 state-leading performance last weekend. Ranked #2 in California, Long Beach Poly laces it up next to them with their 47.30 seasonal best while Carson's 48.30 is the third-fastest team in the state! Also watch for Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Long Beach Wilson, and Culver City!
THE marquee event on the bill will come in the girls 400 meters! In a who's who of the most talented sprinters in California over the past several seasons, Samarra Monrroy is slated to take the line in her new Long Beach Wilson uniform. The senior transfer from Millikan (SS) owns a lifetime best of 54.13. Meanwhile, Roosevelt's Naomi Johnson (54.38) opened up with 55.03 two weekends ago while defending Central Section champ, Takiya Cenci of Clovis North (pictured above) comes in with a best of 54.36 from last June. With that, Golden Valley's Adonijah Currie is coming off a 55.57 last weekend. Defending CIF-Div. 3 champion, Ava McCumber Gandara (55.65) of Notre Dame (SO) while Palos Verdes' Anna Terrell (56.48) finished runner-up in the same race at the same 2021 final. A seed time of 57.86 did NOT make it into the final for this one!
For the 100 meters, the event is also loaded as defending LA-City Section champ, Reign Redmond gets into the blocks with a best of 11.75 from the 2021 Arcadia Invite. Long Beach Poly's Aniyah Wyche (12.15 wind-legal best) was the CIF-SS Div. 1 runner-up in 2021. Ayala's Kayla McBride steps in with a wind-legal best of 12.02 from her 2021 freshman season. Santiago's Samantha Bartz and Redondo's Eve Divinity will also flirt with that 12-second watermark. Golden Valley's Currie is slated to compete along with Thousand Oaks' Shelby Richmond, who shined at the Winter Championships in January. Already off to a great start is Millikan junior Kaliyah Johnson whose 11.99 (nwi) is No. 2 in the state (all conditions) for 100m, and her 200 best of 25.25 (2.0) ranks No. 9.
In the 100 hurdles, Central's dynamic hurdling duo of Riley Costales (14.93) and Taleeah Hoggatt (15.04) placed third and fifth, respectively, at the 2021 Central Section Masters Meet. But also watch for their teammate, Bella Gragnani (15.35/46.52) who will also shine in both hurdles while Costales (45.72) is one the favorites going into the 300 Hurdles. In those longer hurdles, Long Beach Poly's Kennadi Reed exploded to the top of the Southern Section leaderboard with her 44.24 performance two weeks ago. Edison's Lindy Tarvin (46.45) will also look to break 46-seconds as well.
The jumps will provide a glimpse of why Golden Valley's girls are ranked atop our CIF-SS Div. 2 team rankings as Kylee Davis goes into the high jump and long jump as one of the best in California. Davis will have her work cut out for her in the high jump as Long Beach Poly's Zharia Taylor cleared 5-6 last weekend, Los Alamitos' Mackenzie Kirk and Santiago's Kathryn Rust have also elevated over the 5-4 bar.
GV's Davis measured out over 20-feet two weekends ago, and looks to cement her legacy with another 20-foot effort! Agoura transfer, Lauren Thai makes her debut for Thousand Oaks as she is the defending Ventura County champ. Mayfair's Sade Falese is the CIF-SS Div. 4 runner-up from 2021 but looking to defend her home pit, Redondo's Eve Divinity comes in with a 19-1 lifetime wind-legal best while she was fourth at the Div. 1 finals a year ago. The triple jump will feature Los Alamitos' Kirk, Golden Valley's Olivia Dowd, and Carson's Aniya Outley. Kirk recently bounded her way to a 39-4 (no wind reading) last weekend while Dowd comes in with a 36-6 lifetime best from this past January.
Several of the best pole vaulters in the Southern Section will come together, headlined by Ayala's Madeline Seifert who cleared 12-feet two weeks ago. Claremont's Bella Sanvictores (11-9) and Kayla Tassara of South Torrance cleared 11-7 for a new lifetime best a week ago.
The throws on the girls' side are also loaded! Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks will bring their trio of state-ranked throwers! April Fontenette, Hope Gordon, and freshman Aja Johnson currently occupy three of the top five spots in the Southern Section in both the discus and shot put with Fontenette ranked atop the charts with her 141-11 seasonal best in the former. Gordon ranks atop the shot put in California (42-10.5). In the discus, their main challenge will come from Roosevelt's Karyssa Owens (135-5) who is ranked fourth in the state. Carson's Lauryn Williams will counter in the shot put as her 39-11.5 is fifth in California.
Moving to the distances, we open up with the 3200 meters on Friday night where the top headliners all come in with sub-11:00 credentials. UCLA-bound, Miliana Perez of Clovis North steps in with the top lifetime best of 10:34.89 from last May. Her teammate, Ashlyn Leath has also run under 10:45 but Oaks Christian sophomore Payton Godsey has looked strong the past two weekends and is looking to improve upon her 10:37.15 best from 2021. Emma Hadley and Isabella Frisone, both representing Anaheim Canyon, are primed to break the 11-minute barrier for the first time this season as well. But the favorite may very well be Peninsula junior Aishling Callanan who established herself among the best in the state this past cross country season and is primed for a huge breakout performance in the 3200.
On Saturday morning, the 1600s will be rolling as La Canada sophomore Arielle McKenzie brings her 4:48.96 best from last June to the oval. Saugus' Isabella Duarte also JW North's Mackenzie Browne bring sub-5:00 resumes while West Ranch's Alexis Fernandez, Redondo's Lyla Fedio, Serrano's Tiani Goeson, and Beverly Hills' Danielle Hollander and Makena Oliva of Anaheim Canyon will use the brisk pace of McKenzie for what will be a great race!
Finally, the 800 meters will feature McKenzie (2:11.93) and Browne (2:14.43) as they return back from the early morning 1600-meter affair. San Diego State-bound Tatum Zinkin of Clovis North (2:14.37) is also slated to compete while coming back from the 3200 from the night before, also watch for Peninsula's Callanan.
Mark Gardner is a teacher, former coach, announcer, and a regular contributor to MileSplit focusing on the Southern Section.
Staff photos by Deanna Turner, Jeffrey Parenti and Raymond Tran.