The temperature was high, the track was fast and the times were stellar in the CIF state track and field preliminaries Friday at Buchanan High.
After a two-year hiatus, the 102nd edition of the event (canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic) began with a breathtaking performance by the Santa Clarita Golden Valley girls’ 400 relay squad, which shaved 16 hundredths of a second off of its state-leading time to win its heat in 45.82 seconds — easily the fastest qualifying time.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day, though, was turned in by Reign Redmond of Carson, who shattered a 45-year-old City Section record in the girls’ 100-meter dash with an 11.45-second clocking — the fastest in the state this year. Redmond easily bettered the previous section standard of 11.50 by Kim Robinson of Westchester in 1977.
“It’s such a rush, such a joy. … This was a huge PR for me — my previous best was 11.71 at Arcadia,” said Redmond, who also ran anchor on the Colts’ 400 relay. “I was proud of our 4×100 team even though we didn’t win because we had to put an alternate in.”
Later, Redmond clocked a personal-best 23.86 to edge Gardena Serra’s Brazil Neal in her 200 heat while Serra’s Jordan Washington (23.94) and Adonijah Currie (24.02), who earlier anchored Golden Valley’s 400 relay, also won their heats to set up a highly anticipated final Saturday.
“I shocked myself in the 200 — I’ve been waiting to hit it and my coaches told me today was the day,” she said. “After the 100 I wasn’t sure how I’d double back in the 200 because it’s a longer race. To get two PRs is something I didn’t expect. Sure, three races in a day is tiring, but God has my back.”
In the first boys’ 100 heat a few minutes later, all eyes were on Gardena Serra junior Roderick Pleasant, who had earned national headlines six days earlier with a state-record 10.14, tying the world’s second-fastest wind-legal time ever by a 17-year-old. He might have been saving himself for Saturday’s final, but his 10.38 was good enough for first in his race and second overall behind Long Beach Jordan sophomore Jordan Washington (10.31). All nine qualifiers ran under 10.60. Devin Bragg of Los Alamitos, the freshman state record holder and City Section champion Mykale Mundy of Los Angeles Dorsey both just missed qualifying for the finals.
Pleasant began his day by anchoring the Cavaliers’ 400 relay, which placed second in its heat and fifth overall in 41.57 thanks to his blazing final leg in which he passed two runners but had too big of a gap to steal a victory from state-leading Central (40.92).
Pleasant was also favored in the 200, having run a blistering 20.40 two weeks prior in the Southern Section finals to set the state record for an 11th-grader and climb to No. 2 on the all-time state list behind only the 20.14 by Olympian Michael Norman his senior year at Vista Murrieta in 2016. Pleasant certainly did not disappoint, dominating his race and qualifying first overall in 20.83.
Despite only an hour to rest after outdueling Marmonte League rival Sam McDonnell from Newbury Park in her 1,600 meters heat, Ventura’s Sadie Engelhardt doubled back to post the fastest 800 time (2:10.13) by over a second. This spring, she set a national freshman record in the 3,200 and on Saturday she will battle Alabama-bound McDonnell and the top 1,600 qualifier, Duke signee Dalia Frias from Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.
In the 400 meters, City champion Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills won his heat and was the second-fastest qualifier in a time of 47.34, just edging Southern Section Division 2 champion Christopher Goode (47.58) from Valencia West Ranch.
Newbury Park junior Aaron Sahlman must have felt lonely making the trip north without the top three 3,200 runners in the country — his older brother Colin (who skipped the postseason to race in the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Oregon on Saturday) and junior twins Lex and Leo Young — but he kept the Panthers’ pride intact by posting the top qualifying time in the 800.
In the discus, junior April Fontenette of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame was the girls’ top qualifier with a throw of 157 feet, 1 inch and Terraine Wiggins Jr. of Golden Valley was the boys’ leader at 195-03.
Calabasas (3:46.73), Clovis North (3:49.63) and Culver City (3:50.92) won their qualifying heats in the girls 1,600 relay.
It will hard to top what she did Friday, but Redmond will give it a shot Saturday.
“I will come out here tomorrow and give it my all — I have my heart in the bottom of my foot every time I step on the track,” she said.
However, she has a new prop that might help.
“Actually, I just bought a hammock,” she said. “Now I can stretch out, eat some fruit and relax between races.”