Long Beach Poly runs away with girls' Division 1 title

Melia Cox of Long Beach Poly won three events at Saturday's CIF-SS track and field finals. Kirby Lee/US Presswire

CERRITOS — Arguably the best girls’ track and field team in state history might finally have some competition.

Long Beach Poly dominated the Southern Section Division 1 finals Saturday at Cerritos College, taking the top two spots in the 200, 400 and 800 meters and winning a handful of other events to run away with the team title.

The Jackrabbits finished with 148 points, far ahead of Eastvale Roosevelt and Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos, who tied for second with 33.

“It’s like our 2004 team,” said Poly coach Don Norford. “A lot of depth, a lot of great athletes, a lot of dedication and hard work. They have all the qualities of a champion.”

The 2004 team finished off its high school season by setting a national record in the 1,600-meter relay to finish with a state meet record 80 points. Shana Woods was the star on that team, winning a state title in the long jump and finishing runner up in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the 100.

This season’s front runner is senior Melia Cox.

She opened the meet by running the second leg on the 400 relay team that won in 45.50 seconds. She then won the 100 hurdles in a nation-leading 13.42, which was also just a hundredth of a second off the Division 1 meet record set by Nichole Denby of Riverside North in 2000.

Cox came back to win the 300 hurdles in 40.94 and, sometime in between, found time to win the triple jump with a best leap of 40 feet 6 inches.

“That’s just outstanding,” Norford said.

Even without Cox, the rest of the division would have been no match for the Jackrabbits.

Akawkaw Ndipagbor finished first in the 400 in 53.86, the second-fastest time in the nation this season, and Poly teammate Azia Walker was second in 54.95. Ndipagbor came back to win the 200 in 23.62, followed by teammate Arianna Washington in 24.01.

Dynasty Gammage won the 800 for the Jackrabbits in 2:11.29 and Arielle Stevenson was second in 2:11.73.

Long known for their ability to develop sprinters and jumpers, the Jackrabbits are getting very adept in the middle distances as well.

“I want to be known, not just a sprint school, but as a middle distance school,” Norford said. “We’ve got some young kids that are going to be pretty good. It might take another year for them to mature but they’re going to be pretty good too.”

Among the other highlights from the division finals:

*Katherine Delaney of San Juan Capistrano JSerra broke a 28-year-old Division 4 record in the 1,600, winning in 4:46.82. The previous mark of 4:47.23 was set by Gladys Prieur of Los Angeles Le Lycee.

*Rachel Toliver of Inglewood St. Mary’s set a Division 4 record while winning the triple jump with a mark of 40-4 ¼. The previous mark of 38-7 ¼ was set by Reynda King of St. Mary’s in 1997.

*Mater Dei finished second and third in the girls’ pole vault in Division 2 to overtake Saugus for first place with just the 1,600 relay remaining. The Monarchs won that event to finish with 64 points. Saugus was second with 51.

*Cami Chapus of North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake won the 1,600 (4:49.15) and 3,200 (10:35.62) to lead the Wolverines to the Division 3 team title.

*Kylie Price of La Puente Bishop Amat was also a double winner in Division 3, winning the girls 100 in 11.81 and the 200 in 24.31.

For complete girls results, click this link.