Season-opening Ontario Relays deliver record-setting efforts


ONTARIO -- The calendar still says February, but several athletes competing in one of the CIF-Southern Section''s season-opening meets on Saturday, the Ontario Relays, seemed to treat it as though they were already in midseason form.

There were seven meet and 11 stadium records broken at Ontario High School's Jaguar Stadium on Feb. 18. Some athletes had multiple record-setting performances and a few of the records broken were previously set 10 or more years ago.

For the Corona Santiago girls' 6400-meter (4x1600) relay team of, in order, Rylee Blade, Kinsley Whitecavage, Audrey Buckley and anchor Kendal Lee, their time of 21:46.36 was a meet, stadium and school record. Serrano had the previous mark of 21:59.66 in 2016.

What was very impressive on Saturday is that it was the day's first race.

"It was amazing," said Blade, a sophomore, who was running in a group with only one senior (Lee), and freshman Whitecavage, and sophomore Buckley running their first-ever 4x1600 in an official meet. "We hope it can set the tone for the rest of the meet."

It did for others and once again, it did for this same Santiago crew.

Their 4x800 relay race, which this season is an official addition to the CIF-State Meet race event schedule, saw Santiago switch up the order they had in the 4x1600, by having Blade go from leadoff to running the anchor leg and Lee leading off after being anchor. The result in the 4x800 was a stadium record in 9:55.59 and they were the lone girls' team to go sub-10 minutes.

They weren't the only ones to reach a mark that no one else could on this day.

Cajon senior JeyQuan Smith, who will head to South Florida to play football this fall, came away with two meet and stadium records. 

Individually, he blistered the 100-meter dash field in a time of 10.66, lowering the previous meet and stadium marks of 10.95, set by Aaron Thompson of Los Osos in 2013 (meet record) and Ryan Maya-Chapron of Colony in 2017 (stadium mark). No one else broke 11 seconds on Saturday.

"Was I aiming for a 10.66?" Smith said. "I don't want to peak too early but I am trying to beat my PR of 10.5 set during my sophomore year before injuries and distractions got in the way. Getting this now hopefully puts me on a good pace to maybe go 10.3, 10.2 this season."

Smith, who also had a non-record 20-4 to claim the boys' best long jump mark among all three divisions on the day, was able to flash his 100 speed a second time, too.

Smith anchored Cajon's meet- and stadium record-setting 4x100 relay along with teammates Brayden Austin, Keith Cotlage and Ian Beauregard. They went 42.04, besting Carter's 2013 meet record (42.55) and 2017 Colony's stadium mark (42.71).

Lakewood sprinters, Jai'ya Jones, a junior, and sophomore Amaya Rice, both eclipsed the previous stadium record in finishing 1-2 in the lone 200-meter heat with times of 25.53 and 25.56, respectively. Ontario's Alyssa Mercado held the previous stadium mark since 2017 in 25.61.

Jones and Rice were joined by Lakewood senior teammates Ziann Jefferson and La'Naya Hill-Muhammad in winning the girls 4x100 relay in a stadium record time of 47.95, nearly shaving off a full second from the 2018 stadium record setter Carter (48.86).

Orange Vista senior Kailah Mckenzie lowered her own previous meet and stadium record in the 100 hurdles (14.82, 2022) by going 14.77. She later participated on Orange Vista's winning 4x400 relay team (4:05.37).

The Etiwanda boys' distance medley relay team set a meet and stadium record with its 10:46.49 time. The group, comprised of seniors Joel Fischer, Noah Gordon, Uchenna Abba, and junior Gabriel Castillo, shattered the previous bests by 2012's Corona (10:56.31 meet record) and 2022's Santiago (10:57.09 stadium record).

The highlight performances in the field events were both turned in by Etiwanda junior Alaya Robinson.

She won both the long jump and triple jump with meet and stadium record-setting marks. In the long jump, she went 18-3, breaking Cajon's Ayana Gales' 2011 record of 17-10 and Los Osos' Abibat Iriafen's 2016 stadium record of 17-6. In the triple jump, Robinson's top effort of 38-0.50 broke Cajon's Gales' 2011 meet record mark of 37-2 and Colony's Cameryn Caffey's 2017 stadium record of 36-5.50.

Ryan Blystone is a freelance writer and regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by Stacy Soriano/Interviews by Ryan Blystone