RECAP Correia Serves Notice in 800m at Escondido Invite

Point Loma senior Manuel Correia has emerged as one of California's best in the 800 meter run heading into the post-season.


ESCONDIDO -- It's shaping up to be a ridiculously competitive boys 800-meter race at the California State Meet in Clovis next month.

In addition to the likes of Long Beach Poly (SS) junior Xai Ricks (1:49.19), Vista Murrieta (SS) senior Tarron Johnson (1:50.43), Cathedral (SS) junior Ambodai Ligons (1:51.15), and Ricks' senior teammate Lamarr Kirk Jr. (1:51.37), you might want to add the name Manuel Correia.

That's if the UC Santa Barbara-bound Point Loma senior decides to run the event.

"I still haven't made up my mind," said Correia after winning the 800 at the Escondido Invitational at Escondido High Friday night in 1:51.44, beating Torrey Pines' state veteran Ryan Thomas (1:52.04). "I'll run the 800 and 1600 in CIF and then decide what to do at State."

Correia's mark, No. 6 all-time in San Diego, was the top performance in a meet that was started in 90-degree heat but cooled off into the high 50s later.

The 800 came at a perfect time as Correia and Thomas left the rest of the field well in their wake. No one can ever question Correia's toughness as he often sets the pace for the super-stars. This time he was one.

"I wanted to take it out fast," said Correia. "It didn't feel that fast, so I let him take over. The just wanted to stay in contact to be strong at the finish."

Correia was stronger than most expected as he moved up on Thomas, who ran 1:52.34 in the state prelims last year, heading into the final turn and went past off the bend, not only grabbing the lead but refusing to budge even an inch down the final 100 meters.

Obviously Thomas benefitted as well, just missing breaking 1:52.0.

"I'm 100 percent happy with that time," said Correia, which made him in the minority in the meet that featured numerous top 10 competitors who couldn't get their best times in the final invitational before league and section championships.

(The competition in the two-lap race appears even more wide open since Newbury Park (SS) senior Aaron Sahlman said he would forego high school competition. Sahlman ran a state-leading 800m time of 1:49.07 at Arcadia and afterward said that if he competed at the Bryan Clay Invitational, a college meet, that his high school career would be over. Sahlman ran unattached at Bryan Clay, running 1:49.19 for sixth in one of 20 sections.)

Elsewhere at the Escondido Invitational ... 

Two of the most frustrated were Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman, the defending State Meet champion in the 300-meter hurdles, and Madison's Amirah Shaheed, who ran 11.66 in the 100 last year before pulling a hamstring in the section finals, ending her season.

Coleman swept the hurdles in 14.66 and 43.37 and was disappointed since she ran 14.04 and 42.19 in 2022.

"She's struggling a little bit but nothing earth-shattering," said the Dons coach Dan Geiger. "She is training hard, she's healthy, she's a great competitor, so there's nothing to blame it on.  She runs 14.5 or 14.6 every week -- she'll put it together."

She came back to run a leg on the 4x400 relay after running a rare 200 in a dual meet the day before.

"I'm not thinking of place, I'm thinking of time," said Coleman, the state 300-meter hurdle champion a year ago whose best this year is 42.58, which isn't even the leader.

That spot is taken by Torrey Pines' Karina Janik, the state leader at 42.19, who did not compete in the hurdles.

"I think I need to work on my speed between the hurdles," said Coleman. "I've been focusing on attacking them."

Shaheed, a junior, also shrugged off her double sprint victory in 12.06 in the 100 and 24.50 for the 200.

"I've been focusing on my mechanics," said the Warhawks junior. "Today I wanted to work on my start. My dad's been in my ear but the important thing is to finish the season.

"I'm looking to run under 11.5. Anything under 11.6 is good."

Her sprint coach and dad, Haneef Shaheed, said, "we want her at 11.55 in the 100 and under 24 in the 200 by the end of the season. I honestly believe she'll be in the top three in the state in the 100."

Elsewhere, many of the section's top competitors opted not to run and the Frosh-Soph Championships Saturday at Del Norte took another quality bundle of athletes.

Here were the other highlights:

--Poway's Tessa Buswell went through the mile at 5:18.4 of the 3200 but without the likes of Del Norte's Hannah Riggins, she had to try to hold the pace all by herself while still managing to run a season-best 10:49.12, well under the 11:14.79 at the season-opening Bronco Invitational.

--San Marcos' Balamber Izsold won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.21 but was one of those hoping for something a lot faster after going 14.85 earlier this year.

--Rancho Buena Vista's Tyler Knowles came within two feet of his best in the discus, winning at 177-2 over Mission Hills' Trey Vergenz' 164-3.

--El Camino's David Acosta captured the 400-meter at 49.11, the No. 3 time in the section this year and well under his previous best of 50.12. He came back to win the 200 in 22.28.

--Mt. Carmel's Tom Bell sped to a 9:10.33 to capture the 3200.

Steve Brand is a San Diego-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

California MileSplit editor Jeffrey Parenti contributed to this report

Photos by James Huenink