“California here we come!”
– Phantom Planet, California
“California show your teeth.”
– Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dani California
When talented track and field teams throughout the country are seeking warm weather and hot times in the early stretches of the season, they inevitably head west to California. The Arcadia Invitational has long been an opportunity for the nation’s elite to go head-to-head with the best the Golden State has to offer. This year, the rest of the nation will have their collective hands full. Up and down the schedule, the Arcadia meet is packed with capable Californians ready to represent, and a stunning gathering of athletes from around the country (and the world) hoping to haul some hardware over the border.
Here’s a quick run-down on some of the most compelling California vs. The Country match-ups.
The boys’ sprint races are shaping up to be a series of collisions between the best Ohio has to offer and the quickest wheels in California. In the 100 and 200 meter dashes, “Mr. Ohio Football,” Brandon Saine (Piqua OH) will bring his 10.38/20.74 speed from ’06 up against Northern California’s Jahvid Best (Salesian, Richmond – 10.39w/21.03 in ‘06) and Inglewood’s Dondre McDonald (10.66-21.22 this season).
The 400 meter dash features another compelling Ohio/California showdown, as World Junior medallist and LB Poly all-star Bryshon Nellum will seek to defend last year’s title against Ohio’s Kendall Gregory, a 47-second man with the #6 all-time 600m time (1:19.43) on his resume. Tyler Arnold, a sub-48 one-lapper from Highland, Arizona, will ratchet up the out-of-state pressure.
While the girls’ short sprints look to be mainly California affairs, the 400 meter dash offers a pair of Utah sisters taking on one of the Eleanor Roosevelt Maryland stars and the best from the Golden State. Nachelle and Natalie Stewart (Spanish Fork UT), with 53.94 and 54.36 bests from last spring, will be lining up against the nation’s fastest indoor 500m runner, Tameika Jameson (Roosevelt, Greenbelt, MD), plus Jasmine Joseph (LB Poly 54.02) and Logan CA freshman Thandi Stewart, who dropped a 54.24 while still in eighth grade.
In the boys’ jumps, three out-of-staters bring in the top event marks, with a host of Californians nipping at their heels. Washington leaper Toney Henderson (Gig Harbor) got out to 24-05.50 in the long jump last year, and looks to hold off three other 24-footers in the sandpit. Terry Prentice (Diamond Ranch CA) is just shy of Henderson, with a 24-05 best; Nelson Rosario (El Camino, Oceanside CA) has a recent 24-02 effort, and soph John Byrd (Arlington CA) opened eyes with a 24-01 in a 2007 dual.
California horizontalist Nelson Rosario (El Camino, Oceanside) stays in the sand for the triple jump as well, where his 48-03.5 skills will have to stack up against a pair of rising Arizona super sophs—Will Claye (Mountain Pointe), already out to 48-09 this spring, and Bryce Lamb (Chandler), a National age-15 record of 49-01.75 last year as a frosh! Gyasi Rivers (Hollywood CA) 48-02.5, and Jonathan Clark (Loyola CA) 47-09, will look to make it a California sweep and keep the Arizona neighbors off the podium.
Arizona sends another leading jumper west for the high jump, with Corona del Sol’s Phil Feinberg having scaled 7-01 in March to win the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in New York. Feinberg’s 7-foot ups will be tested by recent 7-00 topper Gary Francis (De la Salle, Concord CA), as well as Daniel Kirkpatrick (Trabuco Hills CA) at 6-10, and the ubiquitous Nelson Rosario (El Camino, Oceanside CA), who’s been over 6-09.
For the hurdles, it’s the girls’ side that features the most compelling cross-border rivalries, with a few Californians who happen to be among the nation’s best ever squaring off against a certain young lady from Knoxville, Tennessee, who laid waste to the record books this past indoor season.
West Knoxville star Jacquelyn Coward ripped entire chunks off a good national 60m hurdles record this winter, taking it from 8.33 all the way down to 8.17. She’ll be in both hurdle events here, and has particular motivation in the 100m hurdles, where she was second last year after being run down in the final meters by Shana Woods. Over the straightaway barriers, the run-down responsibilities fall to four Californians who lead the early national list: Vashti Thomas (Mt. Pleasant CA), who’s ripped a 13.46 this season; State Champ Julian Purvis (St. Elizabeth CA), 13.60 last year; stellar triple-jumper Ke’Nyia Richardson (Holy Names CA) 13.88 recently; and Dahlys Marshall (Valley Christian, CA), 13.90. Washington state’s Devin Brooks (Holy Names, Seattle WA) adds to the intrigue with her 13.93 (13.86w) from last year.
In the girls’ long hurdles, there’s the comparison of Coward’s 59.31 over the full 400 meter distance, with the 300 meter barrier bests of Jamesha Youngblood (Hercules CA) at 41.72, and Kiani Profit (Muir CA) at 41.97. The Maryland team from Eleanor Roosevelt has drawn attention for their baton skills, but Takecia Jameson is the #9 returnee nationally in this event, with her 42.24, and will look to add some individual gold to the ER medal haul. If Ebony Collins, recent transfer to Locke (Los Angeles CA), steps on the track with her #2 all-time 40.10, all bets are off.
It’s back to the boys for the throws, with two Golden State weightmen tasked with containing Utah’s Colin Boevers and several other state leaders. The shot put ring is where Judge Memorial’s Boevers really makes his mark, having reached 64-01 indoors this winter. But in a key undercover meet, Joe Canavan (Palm Desert CA) knocked off Boevers and the rest of the field with his 62-05 lifetime best at the Simplot Games. He’ll bring that tenacity to Arcadia, where fellow Californian Christopher Krychev (Monte Vista) has a 59-04 to lead a host of others between 56 and 58 feet.
Boevers is less dominant in the discus, although he was fifth here last year with his 181-09. He’ll have to improve on that quite a bit to keep pace with Dayshan Ragans of Foothill (Bakersfield CA). Ragans has the country’s #3 throw through late March at 193-03, up on Jake Fuller’s (West Valley, Cottonwood) 186-03 last week, as well as the PRs of Colorado 3A champ Ian Lettow (Faith Christian, CO) 184-03, Derek Johnson (Agoura CA) 183-02, and Jarred Jonovich (Globe AZ) 181-10.
On the aerobic end of the schedule, three Cali stars defend the distances against a flood of Washington harriers, a smattering of others from around the country, and a pair of overseas visitors.
California State 800 Champ Cory Primm (Westlake CA) has already produced a solo 1:50.60 outdoors, but he’ll certainly be tested by Isak Bergman (Ellensburg WA), who got to 1:50.68 last year, North Carolina 1:51.95 star Dylan Ferris—who beat Primm at Nike Indoor Nationals—and Sean Zurko (Silverado, NV), who brings a 1:52.39 to California. Ryan Gamboa (Upland CA) 1:51.67 and Rocky Richardson (Madera CA) 1:52.33, will be looking to make it a 1-2-3 day for the Golden Staters.
Rising Cali miler Mac Fleet (soph University City CA) stunned with an early-season 3:50.48 1500, but he’ll have a 3:51 New Zealander named Julian Matthews hot on his heels at Arcadia, as well as Virginia’s Axel Mostrag (Fork Union VA), a 1:51.63 NIN 800 Champ and 4:14.65 1600 this winter, and Washington’s Michael Chinchar (Kentwood WA), a 4:12.02 miler last year.
The third California distance ace is Mikel Thomas (Clovis CA), the state leader and a sub-9 man last year. He’ll put his Arcadia experience to the test against 8:25 3k Australian Dominic Channon, and a who’s-who of Washington’s best, including Matt Frerker (Skyline), Max O’Donoghue-McDonald (Seattle Prep), Ryan Prentice (Mt. Rainier), Abdi Hassan (Nathan Hale) and Jake Riley (Sehome). Trabuco Hills CA top gun JT Sullivan, coming off a recent 4:12-9:08 double, will certainly be in the mix as well. Relays
Hands down, Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, MD) was the nation’s top indoor girls track team this season, with a mind-boggling 4x200, 4x400, 4x800, and DMR sweep at the Nike Indoor Nationals in mid-March. They’ll be formidable in a whole host of relays at Arcadia, from the 4x200 all the way up to the 4x Mile. In the shorter stick work, they’ll have stiff competition from the Long Beach schools (Poly and Wilson) as well as other California squads like Logan, Bishop O’Dowd, Rancho Cucamonga and Centennial. In the longer relays they’ll face Arizona powers O’Connor, Xavier College Prep and Mountain Ridge, along with California mainstays Corona del Mar, Crescenta Valley, Maria Carrillo, Fountain Valley, Los Gatos, Murrieta Valley, and Oak Park.
The boys’ relays have no comparison for Roosevelt, a squad that can truly dominate up and down the board. Nonetheless, there are some great traditional match-ups that feature familiar faces from in-state and out.
In the shorter relays, it’s all about the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits, as monster anchor Bryshon Nellum looks to match individual accolades with relay hardware. Fellow Californians Rancho Cucamonga, Logan, Inglewood and Dorsey will cede no ground, and they’ll all have their hands full with Ohio squads from Middletown and Strongsville (with Kendall Gregory on the anchor). Arizona units from Chandler and Desert Vista, as well as Ridgewood NJ, round out some of the talented out-of-staters.
The East Coast has a tradition of sending strong squads for the longer relays, and this year is no different. Familiar names like Monsignor Farrell (NY), Fork Union (VA), Indian Hills (NJ), Iona Prep/Ursiline School (NY) and Shenendehowa (NY) litter the start list here. They’ll be opposed by deep and strong Cali squads from Royal (Simi Valley), El Toro, and Trabuco Hills.