* Senior Anastasia Snodgrass of JSerra and sophomore Sierra Cornett of Buchanan will help their teams battle for relay supremacy during Friday night's Burnin' Batons session at Arcadia.
Over the last 20 years, the Arcadia Invitational has become known as a home for the top distance talents in the nation to come together to compete. This year's edition is no different!
Traditionally, the top marks at the year-end rankings for the boys 3200 meters come from the Arcadia Invitational as it reigns supreme to the top-tiered quality of any other meet in the nation.
California's best welcomes some of the top nationally-ranked talents from out of state, starting on Friday with the distance relays and into Saturday with the individual events, along with the distance medley relay.
Below take an event-by-event look at the elite distance competition set for this weekend at the Arcadia Invitational.
More Arcadia Invitational Preview Coverage
* Burnin' Batons Relay session (and girls rated pole vault) at 5 p.m.
* Day session at 9:30 a.m.
* Elite session field events at 3 p.m., track at 5 p.m.
FRIDAY NIGHT ACTION
Senior Grace Hutchison of Buchanan and junior Georgia Jeanneret of JSerra lead two of the top distance relay lineups in the country* * *
The action kicks off with the squads from JSerra (SS) tackling the 4x800 relay! And yes, we did mention squads in the plural as they look to move up the national rankings. In 2022, JSerra's crew ended the 2022 season as the national leader with an 8:52.68. Three legs, Georgia Jeanneret, Brooke O'Brien, and Anastasia Snodgrass all return from that group. Only four squads in meet history have broke 9:05 and both of their quartets could very well break 9:10. Mead (Spokane, WA) is making the trip down while coming down from the Central Coast Section, Los Altos (CC), will also challenge JSerra.
In the Seeded section, La Canada (SS) and Canyon of Anaheim Hills (SS) are the top two team featured.
BOYS 4x800 RELAY
Led by seniors Noah Ray (1:51.97) and Zach Weaver (1:54.27), Buchanan (CS) comes in as the top seed and will go after the top time in the nation, currently held by Long Beach Wilson (SS) at 7:45.51. But, Long Beach Poly (SS), equipped with the current national leader, Xai Ricks (1:49.19) and Lamarr Kirk (1:53.15) will look to spoil Buchanan's party.
Can these squads push themselves to challenge the 7:42.36 (Long Beach Poly, 2003) meet record?
Also, watch for Cherokee Trail (Aurora, CO) and Great Oak (SS) to also break 7:50 and move into the nation's top-ten rankings.
In the Seeded section, Homestead (CC), Dana Hills (SS), and Palos Verdes (SS) will tackle Brophy College Prep from Arizona.
GIRLS 4x1600 RELAY
Possessed with the greatest amount of depth in the 1600 meters, Buchanan (CS) comes in as the overwhelming favorite. Seven girls have already dipped under 5:04, Grace Hutchison (4:45.10) and Ell Lomeli (4:50.79), and Sydney Sundgren (4:52.11) leading the way for the Bears. Buchanan's meet record of 19:56.08, set just last year, should need some adjusting when this one is all said and done.
Los Altos (CC) is led by Duke-bound senior Lauren Soobrian (4:51.13 in 2022) and Jasleen Sidhu (5:05.51) will look to ride Buchanan's pace to a sub-20:20 clocking while the top out-of-state power is Lone Peak (Highland, Utah). The Knights are led by Boston Bybee (4:58.13) and Addie Meldrum (5:01.75). Meanwhile, Buchanan's 'B' team will also look to place with a top-three finish.
In the Seeded section, Menlo Atherton (CC), Palo Alto (CC), Willow Glen (CC), and Saugus (SS) will battle one another.
BOYS 4x1600 RELAY
Two out-of-state powerhouses will look to crash the California crews seeking the win. Bishop Blanchet (Seattle, WA) step on the track as the top seed. William Schneider (4:07.65) along with the top freshman in the nation in 2022, Vincent Recupero (4:07.94), the Bears seek to be only the second squad to break the 17-minute threshold for the event in meet history.
Lone Peak (Highland, UT) is led by Jaron Hartshorn (4:09.13 in 2022). Mira Costa (SS) is the top in-state favorite on paper, but the powers of San Clemente, Crescenta Valley, Granada, and Great Oak will also battle for a top-three finish.
In the Seeded section, Santiago (SS) of Corona will look to hold off West Torrance (SS), St. John Bosco (SS), and Torrey Pines (SD).
GIRLS 3200 METERS (Seeded)
With the seeded section scheduled for Friday night, before the 4x1600 relays, several of the top girls from the same race return.
Cal Poly-SLO-bound senior Ashlyn Leath of Clovis North (CS) emerged with a 10:33.47, fifth-place finish a year ago while junior Allie Bruce (Boise, ID) placed eighth with a lifetime best of 10:36.62. Meanwhile, sennior Anna Chittenden of Mira Costa (SS) was ninth with her best of 10:37.50. For 2023, Santiago (SS) sophomore Rylee Blade shined on the same Arcadia track several weeks ago with a 10:38.57.
Overall, 11 girls
with sub-10:40 lifetime bests will toe the line. Keep in mind, that it took 10:28.10 to capture this race in 2022 with six girls crossing the line under 10:35.
SATURDAY NIGHT ACTION
Ventura (SS) sophomore Sadie Engelhardt ran a meet record 4:35.16 mile last year at Arcadia, No. 2 all-time in California high school history.
* * *
RISING STARS MILE
As a freshman in 2022, Carson Hedlund of Pioneer (CC) captured this event with a 4:19.09 performance, the 10th-fastest time in the event in meet history. Fast forward to this season, and he is once again back, now coming off a lifetime best of 4:13.15. But a rematch ensues, as Los Gatos (CC) sophomore Aydon Stefanopoulos finished just ahead of Hedlund with a new-PR of 4:12.41.
Great Oak (SS) sophomore Westin Brown has improved from a 4:47.30 frosh star in 2022 to one of the best in California, running a 4:15.69 on the Arcadia track several weeks ago. Also one of the more improved runners in the nation, watch out for that last lap from Dana Hills (SS) sophomore Evan Noonan (4:17.03), who likes to run down the competition over the latter parts of his races. While it took a sub-4:20 to get into this race, the meet record of 4:16.44 (Colin Sahlman, Newbury Park (SS) 2019), could very well be in jeopardy.
BOYS MILE (Seeded)
But the Californian contingent will seek to keep the home-field advantage only several weeks ago on the same track, Great Oak (SS) junior Gabriel Rodriguez won the Arcadia Challenge with a 4:14.31 with local product, San Marino (SS) senior Benjamin Hughes right beside him with a 4:14.88. But, other Californians making the trip down from up both bring better lifetime bests as Brandon Moreno of Jesuit (SJ) was a State Meet medalist in 2022 with his 4:12.58 performance. Moreno's league foe, senior Ryan Mitchell of Davis (SJ), shined with a 4:13.02 effort during the 2022 postseason.
GIRLS MILE (Seeded)
Los Altos (CC) senior Lauren Soobrian toes the line as the top seed here, based on her 4:51.13 performance from the Central Coast Championships in 2022. But, a whole host of girls will match her talent with the entire field coming in with sub-4:56 resumes.
Representing the San Diego section, freshman Jaelyn Williams of Eastlake (SD) brings her 4:53.39 best to the field along with BYU-bound El Camino (SD) senior McCall Dame, who rolled to a 4:54.21 in 2022.
The University of Texas-bound senior, Aishling Callanan of Peninsula (SS) impressed with her 4:54.48 several weeks ago but keep your eyes pegged on sophomore Tiffany Sax of Newbury Park (SS). She closed well for a lifetime best of 4:52.88 at the APU Meet of Champs several weeks ago.
GIRLS 800 METERS (Invitational)
Coming out from Illinois to defend her title from the 2022 invite, junior Allison Ince (Normal Community, IL) comes in hot off her 2:04.77 performance to capture the New Balance Indoor Nationals less than a month ago. She established a new meet record of 2:05.42 last year.
Coming in from Colorado, Niwot senior Madison Shults will have her eyes on the upset as she is the defending Colorado state champion, capturing the 2022 title in 2:08.33.
Most of California's best for the event look to break 2:10, starting with senior Hannah Riggins of Del Norte (SD). She romped to a 2:08.60 at the Falcon Relays at Torrey Pines HS several weeks ago and is currently ranked fifth in the nation for outdoor marks. Defending CIF-State Meet champion, Texas-bound senior Mackenzie Browne of J.W. North (SS) improved down to a 2:09.48 less than three weeks ago. Meanwhile, also watch for JSerra (SS) junior Georgia Jeanneret, who delivered her lifetime best of 2:10.40 at the APU Meet of Champs.
BOYS 800 METERS (Invitational)
Newbury Park senior Aaron Sahlman will be one to watch in a fast 800 meter race.
* * *
The top underclassman in the nation for 2022 with a 1:48.91, Northern Arizona-bound senior Aaron Sahlman of Newbury Park (SS) steps onto the track as the only boy in the nation to already go under 1:51 on two different occasions this season. His range is insane; remember, he ran away to the title on the 5K course at the Nike Cross Nationals last December!
But several out-of-state folks will look to push him under 1:50 for the first time and perhaps take home the win.
Making the trip from Waunakee, Wisconsin, senior Andrew Regnier blasted his way to a 1:49.69 performance at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Senior Carter Cutting of Wilsonville, Oregon also makes the trip down, equipped with a 1:50.97 from the Washington Husky Classic indoor meet two months ago.
Vista Murrieta (SS) senior Tarron Johnson erupted with a six-second improvement in his 1:50.93 effort several weeks ago while five others comes in with sub-1:52 resumes including fellow Californian junior, Ambodai Ligons of Cathedral (SS) and his 1:51.54 best.
GIRLS DISTANCE MEDLEY RELAY (Invitational)
Coming into the season off their runner-up team placing at the NXN, Niwot makes the trip back to Arcadia for a second season from Colorado. Led by freshman Addison Ritzenhein and junior Olivia Alessandrini and with all cylinders firing and everybody fresh, they could very well threaten the meet record of 11:40.89 (Harvard Westlake/SS, 2011).
But, several of California's best will take on the challenge, with Oaks Christian already delivering an uncontested 10:47.11 performance on the same track in early February to capture the California Winter Championships. Junior Payton Godsey comes in with a 4:44.13 best for the mile while junior Grace Geyer is slated to kick off the 1200 meters.
Monte Vista (NC) senior Cate Peters headlines for her squad, bringing her 2:06.89 best for 800 meters. Two other Californian powerhouses that will push for the win are J Serra (SS) and Los Altos (CC). J Serra captured this event in 2022 with a time of 11:49.24 and returns most of that crew back, including Georgia Jeanneret, Anastasia Snodgrass, and Brooke O'Brien.
GIRLS MILE (Invitational)
Ventura (SS) sophomore Sadie Engelhardt is back to defend her record-setting performance from last year that saw her run 4:35.16 and in the process, establish a new California state record for the 1600 meters. The phenom has already impressed this spring in capturing the New Balance Indoor crown in the mile at 4:38.65 while also throwing in a 9:51.49 for 3200 meters and 2:06.51 tune-up last weekend at West Coast Relays for the 800 meters.
Oregon-bound this fall, Dana Hills (SS) senior Allura Markow has shown nice improvement and brings her 4:44.56 best for the mile while fellow Californian, junior Ashlyn Boothby of Scotts Valley (CC) is coming off a 4:49.29 win for 1600-meters as part of a 1600/3200 double at the Dublin Distance Fiesta.
The top non-Californian in the field is one of the more improved runners in the nation in junior Anna Callahan of Skyline (Sammamish, WA). With a 5:01.62 best coming into the season, she broke through with a 4:45.29 performance only two weeks ago.
BOYS MILE (Invitational)
Torrey Pines senior Ryan Thomas (5), Menlo senior Justin Prete (8) will be two to watch in a fast boys mile.
* * *
The top seed coming into the action is Torrey Pines (SD) Ryan Thomas. The senior advanced to the State Meet final for the 800 meters in 2022 but turned heads several weeks ago with his 4:07.50 performance at the APU Meet of Champs.
Other Californians will also challenge for the win with senior Noah Ray of Buchanan (CS) coming in with a 4:09.68 lifetime best along with Menlo (CC) senior Justin Pretre and Clovis East (CS) junior Carter Spradling, coming off a 4:12.68 win for 1600m at West Coast Relays. The Cal-bound Pretre went 3:54.37 for 1500m on this same track to defend his CA Winter Championships title in early February.
The out-of-state contingent is headlined by senior William Horne of Herriman, Utah along with senior Will Heslam, representing Roosevelt High out of Portland, Oregon. Seniors Christian Groendyk (Fort Collins, CO) and Jacob Bach (Palmer Ridge, CO) also will bring sub-4:10 resumes to the track for this one.
GIRLS 3200 METERS (Invitational)
The Arcadia Invitational management team went into overtime mode to recruit this talented group for this one! Irene Riggs, the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year this past cross country season, appears ready to go after the newly minted meet record (Dalia Frias, Mira Costa, 2022) of 9:55.50. Riggs is one of the fastest in national prep history. The Stanford-bound senior from Morgantown, West Virginia, comes in with a two-mile lifetime best of 9:50.72 from last year's Brooks PR meet.
In that same meet last June, junior Bethany Michalak (Air Academy High, CO) placed fourth in the two-mile at 10:05.25 and was seventh in this race last year. Meanwhile, senior Ciara O'Shea (Madison Central, KY) toes the line with her 10:08.47 indoor performance from several weeks ago. The defending Illinois state champion, senior Tatum David (Richland County, IL) comes in with a 10:04.02.
The top Californian lacing it up is defending 3200-meter state champion, Hanne Thomsen of Montgomery (NC). The sophomore and defending CIF-State champion in the eight-lap event, comes in as fit as ever as evidenced by her 10:04.06 lifetime best from her runner-up performance at the New Balance Indoors for the two-mile.
To break into the all-time top 10 for this meet, you must break 10:04.03 and this field has several who may just do so!
BOYS 3200 METERS (Seeded)
As a display as the most competitive 3200-meter field of any other invitational in the nation, Arcadia is known for boasting sub-9-minute performances in the SEEDED section! Under the lights, with announcer Tim O'Rourke bringing them through - this one should be no different.
The top Californians in this one include senior Ethan Miller of Monte Vista (NC), who won the Dublin Distance Fiesta several weeks ago with a 9:00.73. Right beside him in that affair, senior Daegan Cutter of Redwood (NC) clocked in at 9:00.91. Crescenta Valley (SS) senior, Parker Simmons is also a favorite to crack the 9-minute barrier as he ran 9:01.24 two weeks ago. Newport Harbor (SS) Kenny Wanlass is also coming in with a breakthrough performance of 9:01.43.
The top two out-of-state entries featured are senior Brody Hartley (Walla Walla, WA) who comes in with a resume featuring his 9:03.78 effort for two miles last June. Making the trip from the East Coast, Paul Bergeron (Westford Academy, MA) elevated his game this past indoor season with a 9:04.07 for two miles.
It took a 9:06.08 just to get into the seeded section!
BOYS 3200 METERS (Invitational)
Junior Carter Spradling is coming off consecutive race-winning PR performances
* * *
The Gatorade National Player of the Year for cross country was junior Daniel Simmons of American Fork, Utah. As he headlines this field, rest assured that he is not alone in the crusade to break 8:40!
Senior Connor Burns of Southern Boone (Ashland, MO) is as gritty as they come with victories at the Brooks PR two-mile last June and more recently, an 8:43.24 victory at the New Balance Indoors several weeks ago. Coming off a tremendous winter, focusing on the mile, senior Rocky Hansen of Christ School (Arden, NC) also brings his resume that includes winning the New Balance Outdoor nationals last two for the two-mile (8:46.97).
The top Californian entered is Cal Poly-SLO-bound senior Chris Caudillo of Clovis (CS), (the defending CIF-State champion for 1600 meters) who rolled to an 8:45.19 in this same race a year ago. Also watch for Clovis East (CS) junior Carter Spradling and Highland (SS) senior Matthew Donis to lock horns once again, as they did at the APU Meet of Champs, with both crossing in under 8:53.
BOYS DISTANCE MEDLEY RELAY (Invitational)
California's Loyola (SS) crew comes in as the top seed for this affair. With seniors Jake Ratkovich and Henry Payne coming in with sub-4:20 efforts this season along with Harrison Lavery (1:54.11 for 800 meters this spring), expect this squad to be in the hunt for a sub-10:10 clocking. Other top California groups include Tesoro (SS), Arcadia (SS), Granada (NC), Madera South (CS), and Santa Margarita (SS).
Making their way out from Staten Island, New York, senior Joseph Perazzo leads the Susan Wagner squad to take on California's best. Also representing the East Coast, Christian Brothers Academy comes in from Lincroft, New Jersey after a successful indoor season.
* * *