PREVIEW Elite Hurdles Trio Leads Stacked Mt. Carmel Invite


San Diego HS senior Charlize James is among three of the state's top 100-meter hurdlers scheduled to go head-to-head for the first time in a featured event at the Mt. Carmel Invitational on Saturday. (Raymond Tran photo)

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SAN DIEGO -- Quiz:  When was the last time the San Diego Section had the state's top three girls 100-meter hurdlers?

Answer: Trick question.  Since in the history of girls track only one San Diego girl has ever won the state 100-meter hurdles, that being Sweetwater High's Gail Devers who dominated in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1984 and went on to win three Olympic gold medals.

Real Answer:  Never.

At least not until this year, so how about Quiz 2.

How often have Scripps Ranch's Aaliyah McCormick (14.19), San Diego's Charlize James (14.36), and Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman (14.39) gone head-to-head?

Answer: Never, again.

That should come to an end Saturday when the state's Nos. 1, 2 and 3 speedsters collide in the 41st Mt. Carmel Invitational, which features 80-plus teams from across the state starting at 10 a.m.

While this loaded track and field meet is primarily a San Diego Section showcase, it has also attracted top athletes from Carson in the Los Angeles City Section, and strong Southern Section programs like Cathedral, Golden Valley, Great Oak, Long Beach Wilson, Thousand Oaks, and Vista Murrieta, among others.

The elite girls events are deep across the board with, arguably, the marquee race being the girls 100-meter hurdles showdown among the trio from San Diego, ranking 1-2-3 in the state for all-conditions times set to finally meet for the first time. 

How could the top three short hurdlers -- one of whom, McCormick, set the section record at 13.85 winning the Division II championship a year ago and Thursday took the state lead with that 14.19 -- have missed butting heads?

"We've run against each other but never all three at once," said Coleman, the only junior in the trio, noting that she and McCormick were in Division II and James in Division I a year ago.  Two years, ago COVID wiped out the season. Last year the SDS Master's meet was a last-minute addition, eliminating McCormick who focused on the divisionals and went on a family-planned trip to Texas the week of the Masters meet.

"I think we all have great starts and are very competitive. I know where I fell back last year was in the middle of the race because my mechanics weren't as good and by the end of the season, I was leg weary.

"I've worked very hard since last year on my form and since we all have about the same speed, that's where I hope it'll make a difference."

Coleman opted to focus on Saturday's meet and did not compete against McCormick in the dual meet Thursday.


The 5-foot-9 Coleman, who was a member of Cathedral Catholic's Southern California Regional finalist volleyball team as an outside hitter, is a full two months ahead of where she was a year ago in the 100-hurdles when she didn't go sub-15 until May.

"I know all three of us have improved and while this is our first important showdown, no matter what happens it really won't affect what happens at the end of the season," said Coleman, who like her two rivals is looking for a sub-14 second time either at the State Meet in Clovis or earlier.

"I think whoever does win knows she'll have to keep working because the other two are competitors and will do whatever it takes to get better. If I win, great. I'm just going for a PR (she ran 14.47 a year ago, so she's already done that)."

In addition to working on her form, Coleman said her mental approach is totally different, starting with dropping club volleyball which she said she participated in on the club level during track season, leading to her being leg weary when the big section meets came around.

A 19-foot long jumper in 2021, she has only competed in that event once, saying it also takes energy from her legs. What she has done is already posted the fastest 300-meter hurdles time in the San Diego Section and No. 3 in the state at 44.28.

What about the other two girls?

Although McCormick, an Oregon recruit, got off to what some thought was a slow start with a best of 14.58 before Thursday, she didn't record that fast of a time until April a year ago, so now with the 14.19, she's way ahead of the curve.

And setting the section record of 13.85 just fired her up for something much faster this year.

All the San Diego State-signee James did a year ago was win the section Masters meet and the Arcadia end-of-season "state" meet, recording her 14.20. She is clearly a big-meet performer and this is the first "big" meet of the season.


Yes, it's still fairly early in the season but the Mt. Carmel Invitational has attracted five state leaders among the girls and three for the boys.

Santa Clarita Golden Valley is loaded in the girls sprints with the No.1 and 2-ranked 100-meter runners in Adonijah Currie (wind-aided 11.73) and Ta'ahjah Fann (windy 11.94). They are also on the Grizzlies' 4x100 relay team that tops the state at 46.26. Kylee Davis is the only girl to surpass 20-feet in the long jump with a best of 20-00.50.

The best wind-legal 100-meter dash time is the 11.97-second time Sage Creek's Elizabeth Hatton ran at the San Clemente Triton Invitational and La Jolla's Payton Smith is No. 5 with a 12.00. Both schools are entered.

Add in 2021 standouts Reign Redmond of Carson (11.75) and Thousand Oaks' Shelby Richmond (11.86) and that event is loaded.

Another girls state front-runner entered in the meet is new CA pole vault leader Lexi Evans of Scripps Ranch who cleared 13-8 at the Cathedral Catholic dual on Thursday, surpassing her previous PR of 13-7 from the Don Jones Bronco Invitational. Del Norte Allison Leigh, who also cleared 13-7 at Don Jones and won on fewer misses, has a school commitment Saturday and will not compete.

No. 3 in the state is Poway's Evangeline Thomson (13-3) and Fallbrook's Rose Wagner is No. 4 at 13-feet. The San Diego Section is 1-2-3-4 in the state in that event.

For the boys, the state shot put leader, Great Oak (SS) senior Aiden Pastorian, is the clear front-runner after reaching 63-04.50 earlier this season.

Another Great Oak senior standout, triple jumper JC Stevenson, is looking for a 50-foot effort after already reaching 48-6.

Helix junior Adren Parker is No. 1 in the 400 at 47.65 and after missing a couple of weeks with a slight injury, is scheduled to run on the Scotties' 4x100 relay team (41.96), the 200, and the invitational 400.

Others to watch include 6-8 boys high jumper Leon Gillis of Steele Canyon, (SD) No. 2 in the state by an inch; the girls high jump where Eastlake (SD) senior Macaria Moore-Bastide is No. 2 in the state at 5-7; and the girls weight events where Cathedral Catholic senior Kennedy Clarke is No. 2 in the shot at 43-feet and No. 3 in the discus at 146-10.


Steve Brand is a regular contributor to MileSplit with a focus on the San Diego Section.

Inserted photos by Raymond Tran