TRACK AND FIELD Southern Section Boys Year in Review


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What a way back to full normalcy after two truncated seasons -- but actually, was it normal?  

From Serra junior Rodrick Pleasant burning up the track in the sprints to the Newbury Park distance juggernaut continuing to do so lap after lap -- both parties came together to rewrite the record books, not just within the Southern Section but California as a whole!

Beginning back in February, Newbury Park senior Colin Sahlman began his assault on the record books by recording the single greatest season of any prep when taking into consideration what he achieved from the 800 meters on up to the 3200 meters.  More on his accomplishments later...

Newbury Park juniors Leo Young and Lex Young continued to carve out their own resumes with the former canvassing the mile in a 4:00.77, establishing a new junior-class state record and catapulting him to fourth on the California All-Time list with the second-fastest performance in section history (behind Colin Sahlman).  

Not to be outdone, Lex established a new junior-class state record for the 3200 meters (8:35.72), before moving on to shatter the state record (13:43.95) for the 5000 meters, which was the second-fastest in national prep history. He concluded his season with a 4:01.52 mile, moving him to sixth on the all-time state list and fourth in Southern Section history. And yep, they still have 2023 to go!

We cannot close this chapter without acknowledging junior Aaron Sahlman, who left the season with a 1:48.91 best for the 800 meters, as the nation's top underclassman.  He also posted a 4:03.57 for the 1600 meters and 8:48.28 for the 3200 meters!  On the all-time Southern Section rankings, he is 9th for the 800m, 10th for 1600m, and 14th for the 3200m.  No junior in California state history has ever eclipsed 1:50 and 8:50 in the same season as this is, undoubtedly, one of the top underclass prep seasons in national history.  

Meanwhile, Serra junior Rodrick Pleasant was also getting into the record-setting mood this past month! He created a national stir with his 10.14 (+1.7) performance at the Southern Section Masters Meet to shatter the previous state record of 10.25.  Later that day, he rolled to a 20.49 for the single-greatest day of any sprint prep in California history. Meanwhile, the week before - he actually recorded an outstanding 20.40 for the second-fastest 200 meters in state history. More on Pleasant below...

In unprecedented fashion, Upland's quarter of hurdlers broke their own California state record for the Shuttle Hurdles in April. Those four all moved forward into the postseason as the foundation for their 2022 CIF-SS Division One team title. Fast-forwarding to the State Meet, Upland junior Kai Graves-Blanks captured the State Title in the 110 Hurdles with junior Davis Davis-Lyric placing second. To cement their legacy, senior Delaney Crawford later took home the gold medal for the 300 Hurdles with Graves-Blanks coming up for second place there as well.

Along with senior DeQuan January, Upland became the first team to advance THREE to the California State Meet in the 110 Hurdles...and the 300 Hurdles!

Another huge storyline that headlined the Southern Section in 2022 -- the Discus!

For the first time in one season, the section witnessed eight boys measuring out over 183 feet with six altogether taking advantage of a generous wind at the State Meet to post 196-plus foot performances.

Although placing second at the State Meet, Murrieta Mesa senior Cade Moran left the season with a 207-4 best to lead the state and ranked second in the nation. JSerra junior Brendon See pulled off the upset at the State Meet with his 203-10 career-best, which ranks as third best amongst juniors in section history. Redondo junior Kai Deines (198-11) placed third at the State Meet, earning him the bronze on throws over Golden Valley's Terraine Wiggins. Elsinore senior Elijah Ignacio (196-7) experienced a 30-foot improvement over the last month of the season while South Pasadena senior Nikolas Iwankiw's 196-7 lifetime best closed out the Southern Section monopoly of State Meet medals for the event.

For the shot put, the section earned four of the top five sports for Moran claiming the title on his 64-3.25 effort. More on him below, but Great Oak senior Aiden Pastorian earned the silver medal with his 60-4 performance while two weeks prior, he upset Moran for the Division 1 title with his 66-7 heave. Iwankiw placed third with a 58-10.75 while Redondo's Deines was the top underclassman with his fifth-place 58-5.25 effort. The Southern Section throwing fraternity earned 10 of the 12 State Meet medals.

The Southern Section claimed the State Championship titles in all four jumps!

Starting in the long jump, one of the upsets at the State Meet ensued with Corona del Mar senior Jason Plumb capturing the state title (24-5.75w) with a better second attempt over Golden Valley senior Elijha Ellis. Great Oak senior JC Stevenson was third.

Unable to adjust his steps from the hard winds, that seem to disrupt many of the jumpers at the State Meet, St. John Bosco senior Camryn O'Bannon bounced back with the victory in the Triple Jump. Great Oak's Stevenson placed second while Valley View senior Kyan Thomas ended with a fifth-place medal while Elsinore senior Elijah Yoshinaga in sixth.

The only athlete in the Southern Section to advance to the State Meet in four events, Cajon senior Seth Johnson captured the State Championship in the High Jump. Meanwhile, Crossroads senior Cole Hoegle tied for fifth place. Mater Dei freshman Brandon Gorski advanced to the State Meet final, while his 6-8 clearance to win the CIF-SS Masters Meet placed him at the top of the Class of 2025 national rankings.  

Ranked atop the California state rankings all of 2022, it was only fitting that Roosevelt senior Hunter O'Brien closed out his season atop the podium as well. With a season's best of 16-9, he was able to manage the winds and clear 16-5. Ramona senior Gavin Hanes placed sixth to earn a medal and ended his prep career with a lifetime best of 16-3.

As the aforementioned distance performances from Newbury Park did not take place at the State Meet - the top performance from the Southern Section came from Thacher senior Ellis Delvecchio. He led a sweep of all medals in the 800 meters in his wire-to-wire 1:50.82 victory. With everybody running out of real estate in chasing him down, Dana Hills senior Jai Dawson placed second (1:51.28), with much-improved San Marcos senior Jacob Snodgress third at 1:51.32. Newbury Park junior Aaron Sahlman crossed for fourth (1:51.42), Foothill senior Jacob Robison was fifth in a lifetime best of 1:51.77 with Long Beach Wilson junior Marcell Francis-Mitchell claiming the last medal with a 1:53.82.

In the 1600 meters, the Southern Section only earned two medals as the top six boys in the section, based on seasonal bests, opted to focus elsewhere or did not advance. Royal junior Jonah Bazerkanian came from behind to earn the bronze medal in a lifetime best of 4:11.89 while Agoura senior Ethan Godsey placed fifth at 4:12.39.

In the 3200 meters, Newbury Park senior Daniel Appleford closed strong for a second-place, 8:58.42 effort while the most improved distance prep in California, Harvard Westlake senior Will Sheehy battled for the fourth-place, 9:00.50 finish. Millikan sophomore Jason Parra crossed for the sixth-place medal at 9:01.66.

Staying with the Class of '24 theme (and from the same league), Long Beach Jordan sophomore Jordan Washington closed out the 2022 season in style with a State Meet runner-up, 10.44w, effort for the 100 meters before coming back to earn the fourth-place medal for the 200 meters in 21.38w.

Others earning medals in the short sprints from the Southern Section include Servite senior Max Thomas (third in the 100 meters) and Long Beach Poly senior Jaelen Knox (fifth in the 200 meters). Admittingly, both were disappointed with how their seasons concluded, seeking individual medals in two events especially after during their performances in April. Thomas came down sick during the week of the Masters Meet and did not advance in the 200 meters, where he went into the postseason as the California state leader at 20.68.

West Ranch senior Chris Goode placed second at the State Meet for the 400 meters. With winds wreaking havoc on the one-lappers, evidenced by how much slower all athletes ran compared to their prelim marks, Goode's 46.75 from the CIF-SS Masters Meet ended as the fastest time in California for 2022. Marshall senior Logan Davis' 47.31 from the same race ranked fifth which is where he also placed at the State Meet. Upland's Christopher Coats earned the sixth-place medal.

Behind Upland's duo performances in both hurdles, also shining from the Southern Section was Mater Dei junior Logan Lyght who earned the fifth-place medal in the 110 Hurdles. Underclassmen also headlined in the 300 Hurdles with Long Beach Wilson junior Isaac Lewis placing fourth with a lifetime best of 37.44 and Long Beach Jordan junior Darryll Stevens placing sixth in a career-best of 38.10. All three go into 2023 amongst the best in the nation.

Overall, the Southern Section boys captured 11 of the 14 individual titles and the win for the 4x400-meter relay.  Cathedral ended the evening with their state-leading 3:13.87 effort while Long Beach Wilson placed third. Earlier in the 4x100, off of Pleasant's anchor leg, Serra earned the silver at 41.50 with Los Alamitos placing fourth.

Concluding 2022, the Southern Section boasted the top individuals in 12 of the 14 events along with the 4x400 relay with Rodrick Pleasant, Colin Sahlman, Cade Moran, and JC Stevenson, combining to headline eight of the events.

Other noteworthy performances from 2022 in the Southern Section, one does not need to look any further than this recent wave of sprinters!

Never before had eight boys in a single season gone under 10.50 for the wind-legal 100 meters! 

Aside from Pleasant establishing a new section best, St. John Bosco senior Rayshon Luke moved into the top-10 all-time for the section with his 10.32. Jordan sophomore Jordan Washington's 10.38 is the second fastest (only to Pleasant) for sophomores on the all-time section list, while Servite's Thomas rolled to a 10.40 wind-legal best.

Chaminade senior Patrick Ize-Iyamu posted a 10.44 at his league finals.  Los Alamitos' freshman Devin Bragg established a California freshman record when he placed third at the CIF-SS Masters Meet with a 10.45.  Simi Valley junior Jaelon Barbarin goes into the 2023 season with a 10.47 wind-legal best while Foothill senior Austin Overn slipped in a 10.49 around his baseball schedule.  

All eight broke into the Southern Section All-Time list for the 100 meters with an astonishing 12 boys all eclipsing 10.65 in 2022!

One event also deserving of extra recognition is the incredible depth of the 3200 meters as 23 boys broke 9:10 this past season whereas the average over the past decade had been 12.  Further evidence lies in the fact that an eye-popping 49 athletes dipped under 9:20!  Over the last decade, the average of those eclipsing 9:20 was 31 per season.  


At the 2022 Divisional Finals, Upland earned its first team title, running away with a 68-49 victory over defending champion, Long Beach Wilson. The Highlanders scored 44 in the two hurdling events alone along with 18 additional points from Coats in his 200/400 double.  Upland went on to earn the Runner-up plaque at the California State Meet, placing only one point behind Central.  

Moving into the division for the first time, Long Beach Jordan pushed all the right buttons on meet day, including a third-place finish on the 4x400 relay to leapfrog Mater Dei for the 60-58 Division 2 title. This was Jordan's first championship.

The Division 3 battle also went to a first-timer as Cathedral outlasted Servite by a margin of 74-62.5. A well-balanced attack was key to the Phantoms' victory with 26 points in the distances, victories in both relays, 17 in the sprints, and 11 in the horizontal jumps.

The largest margin of victory went to Serra putting an end to Oaks Christian's six-year string of championships with its first title since 2013!  In what has become a nice rivalry come postseason time, the Cavaliers outpaced Oaks Christian, 95-72.  Serra hopes to begin a new dynasty as it captured titles from 2002-2005 and with titles from 2007 to 2013.

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Rodrick Pleasant - Serra, Junior

Providing us with a preview of his talent in the latter stages of the 2021 season, NO ONE could have predicted that we were going to be treated with what we experienced this 2022 postseason. After erupting to wind-aided 10.16 the week before to defend his Division 4 title in the 100 meters, the Serra junior has yet, another gear in him as we all stood, jaws dropped, as he shattered the California State Record with his wind-legal 10.14 at the CIF-SS Masters Meet.  The previous week, he streaked to a 20.40 at the Divisional finals, to move up to second on the All-Time California rankings.  He also anchored his squad at the California State Meet, moving his squad from fifth to second in the final 80 meters!  


JC Stevenson - Great Oak, Senior

Leaving the season unsatisfied with his third-place medal in the long jump and silver in the triple jump, the senior leaves the season with the top wind-legal performances in California for 2022.  Stevenson captured titles in both horizontal jumps at the CIF-SS Division 1 final as his 24-9.5 wind-legal effort from Arcadia reigned supreme to the season's end.  His 48-6 from earlier in the season also left the season atop our leader boards. 

Cade Moran - Murrieta Mesa, Senior

Like his Southwestern League counterpart from Great Oak, Moran left the 2022 season with the top marks in California for both the discus and the shot put.  The University of Michigan-bound senior was consistently one of the top throwers in the nation, his 207-4 performance from the CIF-SS Division 1 prelim ranks second in the nation as he ended up earning the silver medal at the California State Meet.  For the Shot Put, his 66-10 from the Arcadia Invite was fourth in the United States.  Despite being upset at the CIF-SS Division 1 final, he went on to earn the gold at the State Meet. 

Colin Sahlman - Newbury Park, Senior

The University of Northern Arizona-bound senior graduates as THE top distance runner in California prep history...end of discussion!   He improved upon his previous California State Record with a 3:56.24 performance for the Mile at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in late May, moving him up to the third-fastest prep in national history. Having canvassed the 3200 meters with an 8:33.32 earlier in February for the fastest performance in state history over that respective distance, he also rolled to a 1:48.80 last month, which ranks as the seventh-best in Southern Section history.    

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(Based on results from CIF-SS Finals, Masters Meet, and the California State Meet combined)

1) Upland - 48
2) Serra - 30
3) Great Oak - 28
4) Cajon - 23
5) Jordan - 22
6) Cathedral - 21
6) Golden Valley - 21
8) Mater Dei - 19.5
9) LB Wilson - 19
10) St. John Bosco - 17
10) West Ranch - 17
12) Murrieta Mesa - 16
13) Newbury Park - 15
13) Servite - 15
15) Dana Hills - 13
15) Los Alamitos - 13
15) Redondo Union - 13

Mark Gardner is a teacher, in-demand announcer, former coach, and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by DeAnna Turner, Daniel Hernandez, Pat Rhames, Raymond Tran, and Dan Tyree