RECAP Two Top National Marks Highlight Irvine Invitational


After a catastrophic beginning to the 43rd edition of the Irvine Invitational, the conditions improved for some of the top athletes in Southern California to showcase their talents.

Being a two-day invite that highlights smaller schools on Friday, a consistent downpour throughout the afternoon derailed any chance of conducting a meet. With pools that seemingly would not drain and timing equipment under several inches of water, the meet got off to an auspicious start.

But Saturday was a whole different story!

Bound to shine on the gridiron this fall for the University of Utah, Granda Hills Charter (LA) senior Dijon Stanley has unfinished business!

After leading his 400-relay squad to 41.82 and to a new meet record, joining Mater Dei atop the state leader board, the senior unleashed a 46.40 to shatter the previous meet record by over two seconds.

Stanley, who placed hird at the 2022 CIF-State Meet, dropped a U.S. No. 2-ranked performance that moves him up to 23rd in California state history. It is the third-fastest 400m in LA City Section history as Stanley now eyes that 45.76 of Danny Everett from 1985.

He also captured the 200 meters into a wind at 21.56 to move up second in the state for wind-legal marks.

Another top-of-the-U.S.-leaderboard effort came outside the stadium in the form of defending California State Meet champion, Brendon See of JSerra (SS)! Coming off a 181-2 effort in the discus on Thursday, See overcame the less-than-dry ring, uncorking a 190-6 measurement to also move to the top of the national leaderboard.  

It was the fourth 190-plus performance for the Oklahoma-bound See, dating to last year that culminated in a 203-10 PR that earned him the CIF-State title.

The girls of Chino Hills (SS) dominated the medal count, taking home the team title by a sizable 134-79 margin over Granada Hills. Junior Lady William-Mensah captured the 100 (12.65) and 200 (25.96) running into headwinds in both events.  Fellow Husky, senior Jordyn Thomas brought home the win in the 400 meters (57.57).  Along with junior Taylor Garcia's victory in the 300 hurdles (46.53), the Huskies bookended the meet by capturing both relays with 48.57 and 4:00.44 efforts. Versatile junior Makena Bailey also earned her own headlines with a new meet record in the high jump, with a three-inch improvement in her 5-7 performance.  

Granada Hills chose to monopolize the short sprints as junior Jordan Coleman ran away from Chino Hills' junior Donnie Parish, 10.89 to 11.07 with both running into a slight headwind.

In the girls distances, Dana Hills sophomore Annie Ivarsson continues a solid start to her 2023 season with the 2:13.85 victory over Newport Harbor's Keaton Robar (2:14.19). Earlier, San Clemente's Lyza Yetter (5:08.29) out leaned JSerra's Anne Elise Packard (5:08.36).  JSerra freshman Kaylah Tasser peeled away from Chino Hills' Jenna Gallegos to an 11:01.24 win for the 3200 meters.

The best of South Orange County shined in the boys' distances, highlighted by junior Rory Catsimanes' win over fellow San Clemente teammate, sophomore Brett Ephraim. His 9:14.04 effort was a 17-second improvement over last year. Coming of a CIF-State cross country championship, among the most improved in his call in California, Dana Hills (SS) sophomore Evan Noonan charged his way home to the 4:18.82 victory in the 1600 meters.

Aside from See's headlining performance in the boys discus, the horizontal jumps overcame the damp conditions with some solid performances. In the girls' triple jumps, Elsinore senior Dajeauna Williams out-measured defending CIF-SS Division 2 champ, Jada Gatlin of Mission Viejo with a 38-8.5 effort. Gatlin, bound for USC in the fall, also impressed with a 38-5 showing. Dana Hills junior, Roxy Meyer placed third with a 37-8 lifetime best.

Those three mirrored one another in the long jump, placing in the same spots with Williams winning at 18-1.5 over Gatlin's 17-8.

In the girls pole vault, Trabuco Hills' Jessica Davis established a school record with her 12-4 effort, moving her up to second in the Southern Section.

Mark Gardner is teacher, former coach, popular announcer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Visual content by Stacy Soriano