MEETS ON TAP 10+ Boys to watch at Arcadia


Newbury Park duo of senior Colin Sahlman and junior Lex Young led a historic 3200 meters at the 2021 Arcadia Invitational. What will the Panthers' vaunted distance crew throw down this year? (Raymond Tran photo)

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We are absolutely back!  After having to cancel the Arcadia Invitational in 2020, and having to restrict to a California-only competition in 2021, the gloves (and masks) are off and we are back to celebrate the gathering of some of the top athletes from across the nation this weekend! 

After losing the last two postseasons, with the California State Championships being canceled, the month of March almost seemed like our state's top stars were making up for lost time!  We've already been made well aware of the excellence we've seen in the distances but the sprinters have actually earned most headlines at the mid-way point of the 2022 season!

Let's give you a glance at some of the boys those stars we are most excited to watch.

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Jaelon Barbarin (Simi Valley/SS)

The junior from Simi Valley has erupted onto the national scene in this past month, cementing a group of California sprinters unlike we've ever witnessed this early in the season!  His 10.47 wind-legal best from two weeks ago established him as one of the country's best as he exploded to a wind-aided 10.37 effort a month ago to win at the Redondo Track Festival.   He will also compete in the 200 meters where he cruised to a 21.43 (nwi) in a dual meet while also anchoring his 400-relay squad.  

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Christopher Caudillo (Clovis/CS)

Behind all of the headlines garnered by the Newbury Park program, the Clovis junior continues to churn out one of the best resumes in California prep history.  He motored to a 4:05.32 for the full mile two weeks ago to become only the third in Central Section history to break 4:06 for the event.  In that event outdoors, he is fifth in the nation, behind the quartet from Newbury Park. This will be his first 3200 meters in 2022 as he looks to improve upon his 8:51.98 fourth-place finish at the Arcadia Invite a year ago. Using the aggressive pace up front, Blake Haney's 8:46.80 section record could be in trouble.

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Seth Johnson (Cajon/SS)

One of the top multi-event talents in the country comes back to Arcadia, where he captured the Pentathlon at this past January's Winter Championships.  He leads the state in the High Jump with his 6-9 effort while this weekend (No. 13 in the United States), he looks to also go under 14.00 for the first time against a stellar field in the 110 Hurdles. The UC-Berkeley bound decathlete will also compete on Cajon's 4x100 and 4x200 squads as he takes the weekend off from the long jump and 300m hurdles.

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Jadyn Marshall (St. Mary's/SJ)

After losing two straight state meets, the senior is getting his chance to remind us all of just how talented a hurdler he is! Remember when he qualified for the State Meet in both as a freshman in 2019?  The UCLA-bound Marshall shined at the Texas Relays two weekends ago with his wind-legal national leading 13.49 performance, moving him to No. 8 on the all-time California state list.  His state-leading 36.73 effort came that same weekend while he steps in the blocks this weekend to defend his victories in both events (13.76/36.77) from last year's Arcadia Invite.     

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Cade Moran (Murrieta Mesa/SS) leads CA Throwers

The University of Michigan-bound senior is the top thrower in the United States!  On Wednesday, he measured out to a 199-8 lifetime best in the Discus which currently ranks him No. 2 in the nation. In the Shot Put, he uncorked a 64-7.50 effort to move into the top spot on the national list!  Moran was third in both events as a junior at the 2021 Arcadia Invite but is now the favorite to capture both!  He leads an impressive California contingent of throwers (Redondo (SS) junior Kai Deines, Great Oak (SS) senior Aiden Pastorian, Shafter (CS) senior Nick Godbehere, and South Pasadena (SS) senior Nikolas Iwankiw).

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Hunter O'Brien (Roosevelt/SS)

The state leader in the Pole Vault, the UCLA-bound senior did not do the sport as a freshman and in his third year, we are now seeing the talent come to fruition as he established a new Riverside County record of 16-8 several weeks ago!  This improvement clearly evident in that he only cleared 15-4 a year ago, he moved all the way up to No. 14 on the all-time Southern Section list.  He will join the elite list of 17+ pole vaulters and continue to move up the all-time California prep charts!

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Rodrick Pleasant (Serra/SS)

This time last year, few people outside Gardena were aware of the speed Pleasant possessed but by the end of the June of 2021, the entire nation was made aware of, then a sophomore, how he erupted for 10.32 (100m) and 20.59 (200m) efforts.  Both performances established new California state sophomore class records. Returning back to the same track, Pleasant comes into Arcadia off winning at the Texas Relays (10.39 nwi) two weekends ago.  As many of his colleagues have already competed against one another, this will be his first crack against the rest of the best in California.  He will also anchor his 400 relay (41.11) team, which currently ranks No. 2 in California.

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Max Thomas (Servite/SS)

The USC-bound senior from Servite has been tearing up the track thus far in 2022, and looks for yet, another gear here this weekend!  Coming off his 20.78 and establishing a new Orange County all-time record for the 200 meters, Thomas warmed up that crowd with his 10.40 wind-legal mark hours earlier!  He is currently No. 2 in the nation for the 200 meters while his 100-meter performance (No. 3 all-time for the OC) moved him up to No. 5 for wind-legal marks for 2022.  The defending CIF-SS Div. 3 champion, Thomas is the current state leader in both sprints while he sets in to defend his 2021 title in the Arcadia Invite for the 200 meters. 

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Jeremiah Walker and his Central (CS) Sprint Crew

The Grizzlies of Central High have been steadily placing themselves into the national spotlight here in 2022.  Walker led his squad to a 40.92 victory (No. 6 in the United States) last weekend at the West Coast Relays while capturing the 200 meters where he is currently third in the state (21.22) in wind-legal marks.  He rolled to a 10.49 for a huge lifetime best improvement last weekend as well (No. 4 in the state).  Central's 3:18.16 fourth-ranked state squad will also take to the track to close out the meet.  

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The Newbury Park (SS) Distance Dynasty Continues

To have one boy qualify for the elite section of the 3200 meters is quite an honor, but to have...five?!  As the Newbury Park distance crew has completely re-written the books and all previous notions of what distance prep greatness looks like, we expect to see another chapter revealed in front of our eyes this Saturday evening!  Colin Sahlman (8:33.32) and Leo Young (8:39.57) are respectively No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, and No. 2 and No. 4 on the all-time California list for the 3200 meters. Meanwhile, Lex Young ran an 8:43.71, to establish a new national sophomore class record (pictured above) at the 2021 Arcadia Invite and is ranked third in the nation for 2022 at 8:43.93!  The fourth partner in crime, Aaron Sahlman ran an 8:01.72 for the indoor 3000 meters (sub-8:40 converted for the full 3200 meters!) two months ago while perhaps, the most overshadowed athlete we've ever witnessed, Daniel Appleford looks to improve upon his 8:56.77 best, which was run at last year's Arcadia Invite. As a preview of sorts, watch for sophomore Dev Doshi and junior Hector Martinez as both are entered in the seeded section for the 3200 meters beforehand and with the goal of going after the nine-minute watermark!  Watch the clock as the German Fernandez's converted state record of 8:31.42 (8:34.40 for two miles) should not exist as of Saturday evening.

Staff photos by DeAnna Turner, Daniel Hernandez, Raymond Tran, and Kirby Lee (Image of Sport).

Mark Gardner is a regular contributor to MileSplit with a focus on the Southern Section.