Long Beach Poly, Wilson Among CIF-SS Finals' Biggest Winners

* Long Beach Poly's Xai Ricks runs in a race on Saturday at the CIF SS Finals

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

by Ryan Blystone - MileSplit California

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MOORPARK - Two Long Beach-based high school track and field powers added another interesting chapter to their respective histories at Saturday's CIF Southern Section Finals. 

Long Beach Poly and Long Beach Wilson, a pair of teams who've been longtime rivals in the Moore League and have both produced long lists of talented athletes, once again finished atop the team standings when it was all said and done.

Poly and Wilson finished 1-2 in the Division I girls meet, switching places from the 2023 season, while the schools' boys teams wound up sharing the division title with each team scoring 44 points.

To put it succinctly, Wilson's boys' 4x400 relay-winning time of 3:14.50 earned it 10 points in the last race of the meet. Poly, who with the win would have won the team title outright, finished in 3:15.16, good for eight points ... and the tie.

"Long Beach track is where it's at," Poly head coach Crystal Irving said afterward. 'We'll take it (a share title for boys). A win is a win. To be a part of such a great program that strives to be atop the state of California and the nation is great."

The co-title gave Poly back-to-back boys division titles, while this was Wilson's first title, shared or outright, since 2021. In the girls competition, Poly won its first girls Division I Finals title since 2021 with 96 points. Wilson was the runner-up with 82.

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

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Other boys division champions crowned were Ventura in D2 with 65 points, giving the program its first team championship since 2019; the Cathedral boys won their third title in a row in D3, this time with 97 points; and Viewpoint scored 57.5 to capture its first-ever boys D4 championship.

"It means a lot," said Ventura's Andrew Fast Horse, an Oregon signee, as he clutched the large CIF-SS D2 boys championship plaque after setting PRs in his 800m and 1,600m races, where he finished second in both, before running all-out on Ventura's 4x400 relay. "This means everything because winning it as a team means so much to me."

Girls division titles were won by Calabasas (D2, 64), which last won it in 2022; a repeating JSerra Catholic (D3, 76); and St. Mary's Academy (D4, 75), which last won the D4 title in 2013.

"Everybody scored points today, everyone did their part," said the collective group from St. Mary's Academy as they celebrated its championship win.

There were so many impressive performances and plenty at stake -- not just winning division team and individual titles, but doing enough to advance to the May 18 CIF-SS Masters Meet, which brings the Southern Section's top nine track athletes and top 12 distance and field athletes regardless of division together for what determines berths to the May 24-25 CIF State Meet in Clovis.

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

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Some notable efforts from Saturday's action:

  • Two female athletes, Castaic senior Meagan Humphries and Chino Hills senior Makena Bailey appeared on the podium, individually, three times. Humphries won Division 3 titles in the 200m (24.12), long jump (18-5) and triple jump (38-8.5). Makena Bailey finished third in D1 triple jump (38-6), third in the high jump (5-4) and sixth in the long jump (17-9). Humphries had a chance to win four division titles because she also competed in the 100-meter hurdles. About halfway down the line she hit a hurdle hard and did not finish the race. Humphries, who will attend University of Texas this fall, won four CIF-SS division titles last year and she medaled in four events at the state meet.
    One huge reason why the Long Beach Poly boys successfully won a share of the team title was due to the efforts of freshman sensation Benjamin Harris. He finished second in the 100m, fourth in the 200m and ran a leg of the Jackrabbits' winning 4x100 relay and was on the 4x400 relay runner-up.
  • Senior Jude Holling aided D4 Viewpoint's team title quest with a pair of second-place finishes in the 110m and 300m hurdles in personal-best times of 15:08 and 38.88. He was also fourth in the 400m (50.27).
  • Dana Hills' Evan Noonan won both D2 titles in the 1600 and 3200. He recorded a PR in the 1600 in 4:04.02 and came back later in the day to win the 3200 in 8:57.12.
  • Santiago Corona's Braelyn Combe continued a strong season by winning the D1 girls 1600 and 800. She also ran a leg of the team's 4x400 relay.
  • Millikan's Jason Parra also doubled up in the D1 1600 and 3200 and nearly pulled off two distance race wins. He finished the earlier race, the 1600, in a PR time of 4:07.10 and was the runner-up to Beckman's Ibzan Felix (4:07.06). Visibly upset with himself after the narrow loss, he set his sights on the 3200 and turned in a masterful performance with a sizzling 8:48.36 to win the race. It wasn't his season-best time of 8:47.47 at the Arcadia Invitational in April, but it was a CIF-SS Division I meet record.

There were multiple events in which multiple teammates provided scoring depth for their team's pursuit of CIF-SS Finals wins. 

Photo Credit:  Raymond Tran/MileSplit

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Notre Dame Sherman Oaks had the best of the bunch when the boys' D3 110m hurdles race came around. Miles Paris won the race in 14.11, and he was followed, in order, by teammates Hayden Bowne and Aaron Uzan, who finished in 14.19 and 14.38, respectively, for second and third place.

Another Notre Dame triple came in the boys' D3 100m dash. Steele Pizzella, Ehimen Oyamendan and Tre Fernandez finished second, third and fourth and as a pack as their respective times were 10.65, 10.69 and 10.70.

A similar point-padding performance was turned in by the Long Beach Poly girls in the D1 100m race. Keelan Wright of Chaparral won the race in 11.55, but Poly's Leila Holland, Brooklyn Lee and Aniyah Brooks finished second, third and fourth, respectively.

Ventura junior standout Sadie Engelhardt had little trouble capturing the girls Division 2 1600 race, winning in 4:46.86. But what made it special was bringing along a few teammates, too. Aelo Curtis finished third in 4:50.21, setting a PR mark and making the most of just being in the race. Curtis said she was a last-minute entry when another runner didn't show up to compete. Another Ventura runner, Tiffany Sax, finished fifth in 4:51.46.

Or how about this look for the D2 girls 200 race in which seven of the nine runners were either running for either Calabasas or Canyon Canyon Country? Culver City's Morgan Maddox won the race in 23.68 and Olivia Kirk of Royal was second in 23.86, but Canyon's Mikaela Warr, who earlier won the 100m dash, finished third in the 200 for CCC. Calabasas' Marley Scoggins, Paige Porter and Zoe Ray finished fourth, fifth and sixth. Canyon's Alaya Graves-Hogains, Briana Bartone and Emoni Wright were seventh, eighth and ninth.

The division finals had plenty of moments, but one look at the remaining track calendar and what's still ahead wasn't lost on Poly's head coach.

"Get refocused, stay grounded, stay humble, that's what we always teach our children," Irving said. "We're really excited about what they've done this year, but there's so much more that we can do and build upon."