Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt and others to watch at CIF State Track & Field Championships


There are many intriguing storylines heading into this weekend’s 104th CIF State Track & Field Championships. Qualifying is Friday and the finals are Saturday at Buchanan High’s Veterans Stadium.

No athlete will be under a brighter spotlight than Ventura’s Sadie Engelhardt, who will try to cap a record-setting junior year with a three-peat in the girls’ 1,600-meter run. She has already broken the National High School Federation record twice this spring (both in full mile races), including a 4:29.86 split that is 3.59 seconds faster than the state meet record she set last year, when she also won the 800 meters — a state double not seen since Pleasant Hill senior Kathy Costello won both the mile and 880-yard events in 1975.

After going for her sixth individual state title (she already owns two in cross country and three on the track, Engelhardt will join teammates Melanie True, Tiffany Sax and Aelo Curtis in trying to win the 4×800 relay. The Cougars’ foursome is seeded No. 1 after winning the Southern Section Masters Meet in 9:02.57 last week.

Headlining a stellar field featuring nine girls with sub-10:18 times, reigning state 3,200 champion Rylee Blade of Corona Santiago will try to hold off challenges by fellow juniors Holly Barker (Trabuco Hills), Maya De Brouwer (La Cañada), Hanne Thomsen (Santa Rosa Montgomery) and Abigail Errington (South Pasadena), sophomores Jaelyn Williams (Chula Vista Eastlake) and Summer Wilson (JSerra) and Huntington Beach freshman Sydney Rubio.

History could also be made in the boys’ 100-meter dash. No freshman has ever won the state title, but ninth-graders hold the two top seed times — last week’s Masters Meet winner Demare Dezeurn of Bishop Alemany (10.36) and Benjamin Harris of Long Beach Poly, who posted a head-turning 10.38 two months ago at the Redondo Track Festival and finished first at the Arcadia Invitational in April.

Other contenders include sophomore Brandon Arrington Jr. (who impressed with an against-the-wind 10.50 effort at the San Diego Sectionals), City Section champion Jordan Coleman of Granada Hills (10.49), Acalanes senior Paul Kuhner (who clocked a wind-legal 10.36 two weeks ago at the Tri-Valley Area Championships), Concord De La Salle sophomore Jaden Jefferson (10.46), Central Section champion Jalen Ford of Bakersfield (10.62), Los Alamitos junior Devin Bragg (10.47) and Valencia’s Brian Bonner (10.48).

Gardena Serra’s Rodrick Pleasant (now at the University of Oregon) set the state record of 10.20 as a senior last year.

A compelling duel is brewing in the boys’ high jump, where state leader JJ Harel from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame will go head-to-head with Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks. Harel is vying to join Serra’s Harrison Steed (2008) as the only 10th-graders to win the state title in the event. He cleared 7 feet one-quarter inch to set the Southern Section Division 3 finals record two weeks ago. Banks, meanwhile, won at Arcadia and Mt. SAC and repeated as City champion with a 6-10 effort. Fairfax’s Sebastian Ikolo emerged as a dark horse after matching Banks at 6-10 at City finals only to settle for second with more misses. Also in the mix is Mater Dei junior Brandon Gorski (6-8), who was runner-up to Banks at Arcadia.

Junior Kaylin Edwards will compete in four events for defending girls’ state team champion Long Beach Wilson, including the 300 hurdles, which she won in 41.57 seconds at last year’s state meet.

She enters prelims with the second-best seed time (42.03) behind only Carlsbad junior Morgan Herbst (41.54). She will contend for the 100 hurdles crown, where her 14.11 is the third-best seed time behind only San Diego junior Anisa Bowen-Fontenot (13.67) and Marlborough senior Fallyn Gowans (14.02). Edwards produced a season-best 42.00 in the 300 hurdles two weeks ago at the CIF-SS Division 1 finals and will also run on the Bruins’ 4×100 and 4×400 relays, which advanced to state along with the 4×800 team.

All nine girls in the 100 meters at last week’s Masters Meet moved on to state, led by Gardena Serra senior Mia Flowers (11.46), Royal sophomore Olivia Kirk and Canyon Country Canyon senior Mikaela Warr (both clocked 11.54), Chaparral junior Keelan Wright (11.56) and Oaks Christian senior Nia Clayton (11.59).



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