RECAP Top Takeaways from CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet

Mackenzie Browne's runaway win the 800 meters was among the many top performances at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet on Saturday at Moorpark HS.

The Southern Section Masters Meet has served as the qualifying process for athletes and relays to represent the section at next week's California State Championships, held at Buchanan High School in Clovis. Year after year, it provides fireworks like no other, and in 2023, it was no different.

Here are our Top 10 Takeaways from the meet

Rodrick Pleasant Did Not Disappoint!

In the fastest wind-legal 100-meter race in the history of California, Serra senior Rodrick Pleasant did not disappoint in matching his 10.14 California state record performance from a year ago! He would return and control the 200 meters as well, backing off towards the end of a wind-legal 20.71 effort.  Pleasant's 100-meter romp also established a new California senior record as he already holds the sophomore and junior records.

The 4x800 Relay is Fire!

The inaugural rollout of the 4x800 relay was a huge hit! With the top four teams automatically advancing, it was L'Mio Edwards on anchor for Claremont that brought home the 9:07.84 win. Sitting out two of their top stars, JSerra (9:10.59) still advanced as did Chino Hills (9:11.50) while Katelyn Matarese moved La Canada up to fourth (9:13.95).  

On the boy's side, despite coming in with the third-best time, San Clemente ran away to the win in a season's best of 7:45.93. Long Beach Wilson (7:48.79), Long Beach Poly (7:50.18), and Loyola (7:51.06) will also represent the section at next week's state meet.

There will definitely be an argument made on how the section deserves more than four spots. On the boys' side, nine of the top 15 times hail from the section while on the girls' side, seven of the top eleven times in the state derive from the CIF-SS.

Long Beach Wilson Girls Checks All of the Boxes

In their quest for the state title, the Bruins advanced all players that are expected to score next week.  They did take a slight hit in their loss to Culver City in the 4x400 relay but they started the meet winning the 400 relay. Loren Webster advanced in the long jump while Aujane Luckey revealed yet another gear in the 400 (52.71) and easily advanced in the 200. Although it was a dicey affair all throughout, senior Ma'Nia Tidwell and sophomore Kaylin Edwards advanced in the 300 hurdles.

A Golden Age of Sprints?

Regarding top-end depth, we witnessed some of the fastest races in the short sprints in meet history. Behind Pleasant in the 100 meters, Jordan junior Jordan Washington matched his 10.24 wind-legal effort from last week as the second-fastest ever in California prep history. South Torrance senior Anthony Flowers crossed in 10.33 and now lies just outside the all-time Southern Section top-10 list for the event. Los Alamitos sophomore Devin Bragg (10.48) advanced for the second year in a row while Oaks Christian Deshonne Redeaux (10.54) advanced as a freshman.

In the girls' 200 meters, with a help of a generous +3.9 wind, all nine girls advanced with five breaking 24 seconds. Defending state champ, Serra senior Brazil Neal (23.36w) held off Quartz Hill senior Adonijah Currie (23.41w) while Culver City sophomore Joelle Trepagnier and Castaic junior Meagan Humphries were both clocked at 23.55w.

In the 400 meters, Long Beach Wilson senior Aujane Luckey moved into another gear with her 52.71 performance. This is the 12th fastest time in CIF-SS history as she is only the second girl to break the 53-second barrier in the past 17 seasons!

Long Beach Poly junior Xai Ricks made it look easy again with his 46.50 lifetime best in the 400 meters. In the section, only Michael Norman (45.19) and Zach Shinnick (45.20) have run 46.50 or faster over the past ten seasons.

Meagan Humphries Writes Another Chapter

Still looking through the archives to see if another athlete qualified for four individual events to the State Meet, but indeed, that is exactly what Castaic junior Meagan Humphries -- aka, Jumphries -- accomplished yesterday! Doing the bare minimum, she advanced in the long (19-03.75) and triple jumps (38-7.75), won the high jump (5-5), and placed fourth to advance in the 200 meters (23.55w). Now, the decision to see what events she will do next week awaits ... "I'm planning on doing all four events," she confirmed Sunday via Twitter message. "I'm gonna attempt to limit the number of jumps I take on Friday. My goal for that day is really just to qualify for Finals with as few jumps as possible. Once Saturday comes, I'm going to try my best to win all of my events, but it is still very unlikely I will take all six attempts in the long and triple jump."

Notre Dame Duo Advance

Can these two win their school a state title next week? Notre Dame-Sherman oaks sophomore Aja Johnson uncorked a 46-10 lifetime best to capture the shot put and move ahead of senior teammate April Fontenette for the state lead. Meanwhile, the UCLA-bound senior won the discus (162-5) with Johnson taking third. We have them projected to earn 32 points next week and right in the mix with Long Beach Wilson and Carson for the team state title battle.

Late Race Sophomore Kicks Take Home the 1600 and 3200

Halfway through the 1600 meters, Great Oak sophomore Westin Brown sat at the very back of the group at 2:09 and going into the last lap, was in tenth place. But, as we have seen in weeks past, he shifted into another gear to run through the middle of the field over the last 100 meters, closing with a 59-second last lap and a 4:11.50 lifetime best.  In that race, the top five are all underclassmen, including runner-up and one of the most improved juniors in the nation, Cate's Sebastian Sutch (4:11.84).  

Fast forward to the 3200 meters, and it was Dana Hills sophomore Evan Noonan that lit up the track. Maintaining contact with the leaders all throughout, he dropped an astounding 57 seconds to run one of the fastest times ever for the meet at 8:49.38. This was a 10-second lifetime best, fourth fastest ever in Orange County history and now places him as the favorite for next week's state meet!

Surprises in the 300 Hurdles

Roosevelt junior Cayden Roberson was the last qualifier (38.75) to advance from a week ago and out of lane one, he snuck up on the field for one of the step-up performances of the meet at 37.59! He is now the favorite for the state title next weekend.

Meanwhile, in the girl's race, after placing sixth in the D-1 race last week, Redondo Union junior Lela Divinity put it all together with a 42.86, school-record performance to capture the race.

Engelhardt Shines Once Again

Ventura sophomore Sadie Engelhardt did the bare minimum in advancing, making it look all too easy at times. Advancing to defend her state title in the 1600 meters, she cruised home with a 4:46.02 effort, just ahead of Santiago sophomore Rylee Blade (4:46.28).

In another rematch with J.W. North senior and national leader MacKenzie Browne in the 800 meters, she was content to simply qualify (2:09.76) for what remains, another rematch awaiting the two next week. Browne, the national leader in the 800m at 2:03.07 from Arcadia (CA No. 3 all-time), held off Engelhardt to take home the State title in the event last spring.

But, what most may have not noticed is that she also anchored Ventura's 4x400 squad that also advanced to the state meet (3:52.92) under the at-large standard.

Casualties Along the Way

It began in the Girls 400 relay, ML King (46.42) did not advance despite coming into the meet ranked fourth in the state. In the boys 400 relay, third-ranked in the state Orange Lutheran (41.28) did not advance along with Sierra Canyon (41.40) who was ranked fifth in California.

West Covina senior Devin Jackson, ranked third in the state for the girl's shot put, also did not advance. Coming in with the third-fastest wind-legal time, Cajon senior Jeyquan Smith did not advance in the 100 meters and was a scratch in the 200 meters.  

But, perhaps, the biggest headlining disappointment came at the end of the meet with the unfortunate news that Long Beach Wilson interfered with another team's exchange in the 4x400m relay and was disqualified.  The Bruins were ranked third in California.  

Mark Gardner is a teacher, former coach, popular announcer, and an associate editor for MileSplitCA

Photos by Raymond Tran