CIF-STATE MEET RECAP Sprints Key To Team Titles


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CLOVIS -- The road to the overall team title for both the boys and girls at the 102nd CIF-State Track and Field Championships was paved in the sprints.

For the girls, the sprint depth for Serra (SS) was too much for even a superstar like USC-bound senior Takiya Cenci to overcome for Clovis North (CS). 

Serra put up 37 points and beat Clovis North by five points for the title. Long Beach Wilson (SS) placed third with 28. Pre-meet favorite Golden Valley (SS) tied Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (SS) for fourth with 24.

Serra's points came out of the sprints, led by juniors Brazil Neal and Jordan Washington. While the latter took center stage during the Southern Section post-season meets, it was the former who led the way on Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Neal won the 200m in 23.68, aided by a gusting 4.6 meters-per-second wind, to beat top stars from their team rivals: Cenci, who was second in 23.78, and Wilson junior Aujane Luckey (23.97). Washington was sixth in 24.12.

Earlier in the 100, Carson (LA) junior Reign Redmond, a night after running a section record time, won here in 11.56 (3.3). But Neal was right there at 11.57 with Washington next in 11.62. 

That's 27 points from those two girls in the 100 and 200 sprints. Serra set the stage for its victory in the first track event of the meet, upsetting state leader Golden Valley to win the 4x100-meter relay, 46.08 to 46.42. Neither Clovis North nor Wilson had a 4x1 team and that was a factor in the final team outcome. 

Cenci, in her final meet an all-too-familiar track, was the girls performer of the meet, completing an undefeated season inthe 400m (54.01), running second in the 200m (23.78/4.6), and dropping a 53.2 anchor split to make up about a five-second deficit to bring home a victory in the 4x4 (3:45.38). It didn't quite garner a team title but it did earn the Broncos a runner-up plaque. 


The boys team title ultimately came down to an epic 4x400-meter relay anchor leg by an already weary Jeremiah Walker, who got the baton in third place about five seconds back knowing that only a top-2 finish would give them the overall team title. A third-place finish wouldn't be enough to overtake Upland (SS) for the team crown. 

Walker, who had already won the 400m, picked up three points in the 200m, and helped the winning 4x100m relay team, somehow found a way to persevere through pain and fatigue. With 200m left in the last event of the two-day meet, he was closing in on the leaders. Over the final home stretch, he passed Wilson with about 50 meters left and hung on for second place and the team title.

That's the second time in as many State Meets that the boys team title went to a squad from the powerful Central Section league, TRAC (the Clovis North boys won it in 2019). 

In addition to the 18 relay points, and Walker's 13 -- from his 400m win and a sixth-place finish in the 200m (21.42) -- senior Cameron Tarver picked up 10 points with a third-place finish in the 200m and a fifth in the 100m. 

In as gutty a performance as he had in the 4x4, Walker prefaced it in the open 400m, running 47.49 (a day after his first trip under 47 seconds), to hold off state leader Chris Goode of West Ranch (SS), who ran 47.501, and Granada Hills (LA) junior Dijon Stanley, who crossed in 47.510. As if that wasn't enough of a fantastic finish, Helix (SD) junior Adren Parker, who had run an SDS record in prelims, came in at 47.68. Upland senior Christopher Coats was sixth in 48.10, adding three points to the 40-point team total where 37 came from the hurdles. 

Of course, all the end-of-meet-drama for the team titles shouldn't overshadow another impressive performance by Serra (SS) junior Rodrick Pleasant. He swept the 100m and 200m sprints and almost brought his team another 10 points in the 4x1 with an impressive anchor. 

He won the 100m in 10.30, a time that would have equaled the meet record if not for a 2.4-mps wind. He won the 200m in 20.56 (2.4), 0.62 faster than runner-up Nickolas Miller, a junior at Clovis North (21.18).

Notes out of the sprints: 

- Redondo Union (SS) senior Eve Divinity placed fourth in the 100m (11.73), fourth in the 200m (24.03), and also placed sixth in the long jump (19-3). 

- After helping Carson to fourth place in the 4x1 and winning the 100m, Redmond scratched out of the 200m. 

- Wilson senior Samarra Monrroy, runner-up in the 400m as a freshman in 2019 while attending Long Beach Millikan, was eighth (56.60).

- Poway (SD) senior Alyssa Bean was seventh in the 200m (24.35), fifth in the 400m (55.64), and helped the Titans to a sixth-place finish in the 4x4. 

- Long Beach Jordan (SS) sophomore Jordan Washington was second in the boys 100m (10.44/2.5) and fourth in the 200m (21.38/2.4). 

- Long Beach Poly (SS) senior Jaelen Knox was eighth in the 100m (10.66/2.5), and fifth in the 200m (21.40). 

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Photos by DeAnna Turner and Daniel Hernandez