CIF-STATE MEET Five Girls Storylines to Follow


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Five Girls Storylines to Follow at the 102nd CIF-State Track and Field Championship

Dalia vs. Sadie

Dalia Frias, the Duke-bound senior from Mira Costa HS, vs. Sadie Engelhardt, the record-setting freshman from Ventura. As far as the 2021-22 school year is concerned, this head-to-head matchup goes back to the first cross country meet late last summer where the record-setting youth won the sprint finish to beat the marquee senior in the Cool Breeze cross country meet at the Rose Bowl. Since then, their respective legends have grown to the point where Frias has set the state record for the mile (4:35.06 from the Distance Meet of Champions, photo above), and Engelhardt set the state record for 1600 meters (4:33.29 at Arcadia en route to a 4:35.16 mile). This week, Frias has just the one event while Engelhardt has also qualified for the 800m and as part of the 4x400m relay team. By Saturday's Speaking of records, the State Meet standard for 1600 meters is 4:33.82 by Christine Babcock of Irvine Woodbridge (SS) in 2008. By Saturday's 6:25 p.m. scheduled race, Engelhardt will have already run three preliminary races. While these two warrant the headline, let's not lose track of another one of CA's all-time greats in this field: Newbury Park senior Samantha McDonnell. Her 4:38.91 clocking for 1600m (en route) at Arcadia ranks CA No. 9 all-time. This will be the first girls 1600 in State Meet history that includes three girls with sub-4:40 credentials. 

2019 State Meet Veterans

The list of girls who qualified for the last State Meet in 2019 and found a way back four years later is at 14, seven who ran in finals as frosh, and seven more who were qualifiers but didn't make the Saturday finals. Topping the list are three returners who won medals as freshmen:

- Caelyn Harris (Upland/SS) won the long jump title;

- Samarra Monrroy, now at Long Beach Wilson (SS), placed second in the 400m while then a student at Long Beach Millikan;

- Riley Chamberlain (Del Oro/SJ) placed fourth in the 3200, the only event that does not hold a Friday preliminary.

Other 2019 finalists who found a way back are Takiya Cenci (Clovis North/CS), who placed eighth in the 400m (and returns in the 200m and both relays);  Sofia Abrego (Granada Hills Charter/LA), a finalist in both the 1600m (10th) and 3200m (12th) who returns in the 1600 and 800m; Emma Hadley (Anaheim Canyon/SS) returns in the 1600m where she was 12th as a frosh, and Jenna Satovsky (Lowell/SF) in the 3200m where she was 24th in 2019. 

Girls returning who qualified for prelims in 2019 are Frias, who is back in the 1600; Alyssa Bean (Poway/SD), who qualified in the 400m as a frosh and returns in both the 200m and 400m; Naomi Johnson (Roosevelt/SS), a 400m qualifier who also returns in the 2 and 4; Tatum Zinkin (Clovis North/CS); Elizabeth Hatton (Sage Creek/SD) didn't make it back in the 200m but this time qualified for the 100m and long jump; Charlize James (San Diego/SD) is back in the 100m hurdles, and this trip adds the 300mH to her schedule, and Isabella Chilcutt (Bella Vista/SJ) in the high jump. 

Elite Depth in Pole Vault

Last weekend we saw two girls clear 14-foot bars in the pole vault, Scripps Ranch (SD) senior Lexi Evans, and Dublin (NC) sophomore Jathiyah Muhammad. They are two of nine girls in the country who have cleared at least 14 feet this outdoor season and two of only eight who have ever vaulted that high in CA history. The 14-9 state record -- and national record at the time -- set last spring by Westlake (SS) senior Paige Sommers does not appear to be in jeopardy, the State Meet record of 14-2 very well could be. This field also includes Del Norte (SD) senior Allison Leigh, who cleared 14-0 last June, and Oak Ridge (SJ) senior Alison Sahaida who has gone over 13-9 this spring. In 2019, 13-4 was the State Meet-winning vault with a field where four girls cleared 13-0. Of the 26 qualifiers here, 10 have gone over 13 feet this spring with three others at 12-9. 

Challenges of Historic Double

Two girls mentioned above are on a very short list of athletes chasing historic doubles. Takiya Cenci is looking to become only the third girl since 2000 to sweep the 200 and 400. Sadie Engelhardt is running both the 800m and 1600m, a double that has been accomplished only once before, by Cathy Costello in 1975. The reason these accomplishments are so rare: Depth of elite talent in those fields. Serra (SS) junior Jordan Washington has CA's fastest time in the 100m and second-fastest in the 200m. Golden Valley (SS) junior Adonijah Currie is the state leader in the 200m. Roosevelt (SS) senior Naomi Johnson and Long Beach Wilson (SS) junior Aujane Luckey have faster 200m times than Cenci and aren't too far behind in the 400m if she were to falter. The other challenge for Cenci is that she is also scheduled in both relays, meaning by the time she gets to the 200m final, she will have already run six races in what could be 90-degree heat. As for Engelhardt, her challenge in the 1600m is explained above. She does have the state-leading (U.S. No. 4) time in the 800m of 2:05.66, run on the Buchanan HS track at the West Coast Relays, but that final -- assuming she wins the 1600 earlier -- will be her fifth race of the weekend. 

Golden Weekend for Valley?

Buchanan is the defending CIF-State Meet girls team champion. The Bears come into Friday's preliminaries with nearly a dozen qualifiers from last weekend's Central Section title-winning performance. But defending that title from four years ago appears to be a longshot for Coach Brian Weaver's team. Los Angeles City Section champion Carson has 14 spots in the prelims, one of the state's top 4x100m relay teams anchored by one of the state's top sprinters in junior Reign Redmond. Golden Valley, the Southern Section Division 2 champion has only seven spots but is top-heavy with the state's best 4x1, anchored by junior Adonijah Currie, who is the state leader in the 200m, and is strong in the jumps with state long jump leader Kylee Davis. Davis is also among the state's best in the high jump and is joined in both events by sophomore teammate Meagan Humphries also in the high jump and long jump. Clovis North with Cenci, their two relays, and 800m runner Tatum Zinkin is not to be overlooked. Neither should be Cathedral Catholic (SD), Long Beach Poly (SS), Long Beach Wilson (SS), and Roosevelt (SS), among others. Cathedral Catholic is strong in the hurdles with junior Kapiolani Coleman and throws with Kennedy Clarke. Poly will be looking for points out of the 4x1 and the jumps, led by senior Lauren Reed. Wilson has the aforementioned Luckey in the 200m and 400m, Monrroy in the 400, plus a state-leading 4x4. Roosevelt lost its 4x4 but still has Naomi Johnson and a strong 4x1. Scripps Ranch (SD) has Aaliyah McCormick in the 100m (CA No. 3) and 100m hurdles (CA No. 1), and state pole vault leader Lexi Evans. Serra (SS) has juniors Jordan Washington and Brazil Neal in the sprints and a strong 4x1. Poway (SD) has depth in the distances and the aforementioned Bean in the sprints. St. Mary's (SJ) has sprinter-hurdler-jumper sisters Cameron Fields and Kori Fields coming off a dominant performance at the Sac-Joaquin finals. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (SS) has four high qualifying spots in the throws. Who are we forgetting?

Jeffrey Parenti is the California State Editor or MileSplit

Photos by DeAnna Turner, Jennifer Koziel, Daniel Hernandez, and Raymond Tran