RECAP Mt. SAC boys records fall; Poly, Serra win team titles

Nickolas Miller of Clovis North blazes to meet record among the many highlights at the 63rd Mt. SAC Relays.

WALNUT -- There was a boys rewriting of the Mt. SAC Relays sprint and middle-distance record books, a few solid double-double wins and dominating performance from Long Beach Poly boys in its relay pursuits to secure the invitational team title on Saturday night.

Meet records were set in the boys 100, 200, 400 and overwhelmingly in 800 while Granada Hills boys 4x100 tied a meet record time. Upland's Davis Davis-Lyric swept the 110 and 300 hurdles, 14.04 and 38.14, respectively and the top male among the field events was Redondo Union's Kai Deines, who captured both the discus (173-7) and shot put (60-11.5).

Long Beach Poly proved that success in relays is more than enough to capture Mt. SAC's invitational team championship. The Jackrabbits entered four relays between Friday and Saturday and amassed 76 of a possible 80 points enroute to the team invitational title.

Individual boys winners ranged from Serra senior Rodrick Pleasant going a meet record 10.23, although it was not wind-legal (+2.3), to win the 100 to Clovis North's Nickolas Miller's wind-legal 20.86 (1.8) to capture the 200 and have the CIF Central Section's top time. Pleasant's 100 time is tops in the state so far this year and it broke the 2016 meet record 10.27 set by Vista Murrieta's Michael Norman. Miller's 20.86 was a PR and enabled him to break 21 for the first time. His time broke the previous record of 20.90 set in 2019 by Madison's Kenan Christon.

"I went in just wanting to stay with everybody because everyone I was going against they were fast and I thought I was going to lose them," said Miller, who recalled a similar feeling in the 2022 Mt. SAC Relays 200 where he led briefly, but got passed up. "I didn't want to make that same mistake again." 

In the 400, Helix's Adren Parker went 46.63, just missing the all-time meet record of 46.49 (Michael Granville, 1995). But, Parker did improve his all-time San Diego Section record that he holds from last year's state meet prelims (46.82).  

The boy's 800 saw the top seven runners finish below the previous Mt. SAC Relays record of 1:55.17 set in 2018 by Thousand Oaks' Mitchell Burr. Leading the way were Clovis Buchanan's Noah Ray and  Zach Weaver. Ray went 1:52.32 to win the race -- though his PR is a 1:51.97 -- and Weaver was the runner-up in a PR time of 1:52.86. Ray led the whole way and Weaver passed a few runners late to earn the second-place nod.

"I just learned how to stay relaxed out front," Ray said. "I didn't necessarily want to lead gun-to-tape like that but it ended up working out. I was able to dig deep and use a lot of my mental strength to hold off some fast-charging competition that the last 100 meters. I just really focused on staying smooth and being relaxed. It was good practice for staying relax and not panicking being out front for that long."

Ray and Weaver went 1-2, but joining them to finish ahead of the previous meet record 800 time were Long Beach Wilson runners JT Kraemer (third, 1:52.98) and Marcell Francis-Mitchell (1:53.22), Andreas Dybdahl of Santa Barbara (1:54.12), Luke Metcalf of St. Francis La Canada (1:54.49) and Seattle Lincoln's Evan Kelly (1:54.59).  On a side note, Kraemer is brand new to the sport after playing baseball in the past!  

Speaking of the 800, the 4x800 relay is a new addition to CIF State events. While Ray and Weaver and Buchanan currently have the state-best 4x800 relay time of 7:43.84, Long Beach Poly's relay success this weekend began Friday in the 4x800. Xai Ricks, Lamarr Kirk Jr., Cameron Rhone and Noah Addison ran it in 7:44.90 and edged Herriman (Utah) 7:45.07.

Poly then won two of three relays it entered on Saturday -- 4x100, 1600 sprint medley and 4x400 -- to secure Mt. SAC Relays' invitational team title. A second-place finish in the 4x100 was the only relay blemish, with Poly earning 16 points instead of the winner's share of 20. Poly, which finished with 78 points, received two points from Javon Hampton's sixth-place finish in the long jump invitational.

Granada Hills Charter boys were second in the team standings with 57 points and Herriman (Utah) was third with 46.

Ricks and Kirk Jr. were on the Poly-winning SMR and 4x400 relays, giving them wins in all three relays they participated. The 1600 sprint medley relay saw Malachi Dawson, Noah Smith, Ricks, and Kirk Jr., go 3:26.31, besting runner-up Trabuco Hills by nearly four seconds.

But it was the 4x400, the meet's final boys invitational points race, that cemented Poly's solid Mt. SAC Relays performance. Smith, Caliph Johnson, Kirk Jr., and anchor Ricks ran the foursome's first sub 3:15 of the season with a 3:14.26, to best a Granada Hills entrant that went 3:14.69 and had Jordan Coleman, D'Javonte Richmond, Matthew Young, and anchor Dijon Stanley.

Earlier in the day, Granada Hills won the 4x100 relay ahead of Poly, notching a meet record-tying time of 40.80. Coleman and Stanley were among the runners on the 4x100. Poly was second in 41.66.

In the 4x400's final lap, Ricks ran down the leader to seize the front, only to get passed by Granada Hills' Stanley and then rally and regain the lead late and bring home the Jackrabbits' meaningful victory.

"Dijon passed me, so I just tried to stay close, give it all that I could because I know Dijon's a great runner, and I just wanted to finish the best that I could," said Ricks, a junior, whose season has included big wins across the track landscape both in relays and individual events such as an 800 win over Newbury Park's Aaron Sahlman in March.

On the girl's side, Serra, the 2022 CIF-State girls champions, emerged as the girl's invitational champions at Mt. SAC Relays with 57 points. Chino Hills was second with 54.5 and Long Beach Wilson was third with 51.

The Cavaliers earned the team title by way of winning the 4x200 relay, finishing runner-up in the 4x100 relay, fourth place in the 4x400 relay, a pair of third-place showings by sprinter Brazil Neal in the 100 and 200, and Jaiya Fletcher's point for a seventh-place finish in the 100 hurdles.

Individual girl standouts included Carson's Reign Redmond's 11:45 to win the 100 and as the anchor on the 4x100 relay (state-leading 45.28); Monte Vista (NC) senior Cate Peters defended her title in the 800m, running a tactical 2:10.84 a year after she set the meet record of 2:06.89; and Alyssa Hope of Martin Luther King (SS) winning the long jump (19-5) and triple jump (39-9.75).

Pole vaulter Iliana Downing of La Costa Canyon (SD) won in 13-9, improving her state-leading mark by two inches. 

Key among the relay winners was Del Norte's 11:44.87 in the distance medley relay, as they took over as national leaders in the event.  Already coming in with the top time in the state at 3:46.02, Long Beach Wilson captured the 4x400 in 3:46.74. 

Photos by Stacy Soriano and Raymond Tran

Ryan Blystone is a Southern Californina-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit