Hot Times Reign At Mt. SAC Relays

Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks junior Khalfani Muhammad racked up a state-leading time of 21.32 seconds to win the 200m at the Mt. SAC Relays. (Photo by Kirby Lee, Image of Sport).

By Mike Kennedy, Special Correspondent

(WALNUT, Calif.) -- Friday night at the Mt. San Antonio College relays, some of the best high school distance runners took advantage of a very mild and ideal conditions to turn in some outstanding performances times, including a 4:07.72 by Bernie Montoya of Cibola (Yuma, Az..) for the second fastest boys 1,600 in the nation and a 20:01.38 by Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) in the girls 4 x 1600 relay for the fourth fastest performance in high school history.

Saturday the scintillating sprinters and high-flying field eventers took over and with the aid of some very favorable winds and warm weather continued the outstanding performances. Leading the way were junior Khalfani Muhammad of Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) and Traci Hicks of Long Beach Poly.

Muhammad was a triple winner, taking the 100 and 200 and anchoring the 4 x 100 relay to establish himself as the state meet favorite after finishing second at state last year in both races. In the 100, his winning time of 10.55 was just 0.01 off his state-leading 10.54, which ranks him No. 8 in the nation. Andre McBride of San Leandro was second at 10.63 and Elijah Mitchell of Roosevelt (Corona) was third at 10.67 to rank No. 2 and 3 in the state, respectively. In the 200, Muhammad and Mitchell, running in lanes five and six, were stride for stride for the final 80 meters before Muhammad prevailed, 21.32 to 21.34. Daniel Fortenko of Terra Linda (San Rafael) was third at 21.46 as the three accounted for the top three times in the state. Muhammad's time ranks No. 8 in the nation. Muhammad started off his day by anchoring the Knights' come-from-behind win in the 4 x 100 relay, defeating Rio Mesa (Oxnard), 41.45 to 41.62. The schools rank No. 1 and 3 in the state.

Hicks and Sasha Wallace of Holy Names (Oakland) both got out well in the 100 hurdles and it wasn't until the seventh hurdle that Hicks was able to pull away for the win, 13.22 to 13.43. The runners were a bit unlucky when the wind reading was 2.1 meters per second, just 0.1 over the allowable limit for record purposes. Regardless, Hicks' time ranks her as the 12th fastest hurdles in prep history under all conditions. Jordie Munford of Rancho Cucamonga was third at 13.64.

Two weeks ago at the Arcadia Invitational, Long Beach Poly ran 58.10 in the 4 x 100 high hurdle relay to gave the national record of 57.49 set by J.W. North (Riverside) ten years ago a real scare. But it was not to be this time out either as Poly, with Hicks running anchor, won in 57.91. The Jackrabbits have to console themselves with the second and third fastest times in history.

Both the boys and girls 300 hurdles were very competitive. State leader Jade Miller of Great Oak (Temecula) won the girls' race and improved her state best to 42.14 that now ranks her No. 4 in the nation. Courtney Robinson of Canyon Springs (Henderson, Nv.) was second at 42.87 and Omhunique Browne of San Marino was third at 43.17 for the third best time by a Californian. Jarrett Gonzales of Damien (Simi Valley) won the boys race in 37.31 with Zach Lewis of Ramona (Riverside) was second at 37.36 and Sicard Lloyd of Serra (Gardena) in third at 37.72. They account for the top three times in the state.

Although the distances were featured Friday, that did not stop Nick Hartle and Centennial (Las Vegas) and Kaela Edwards of Littleton (Co.) from showing there stuff on a mild and calm Saturday night. Hurtle, who already ranked No. 3 in the nation at 1:50.33, won the 800 in 1:51.06 with splits of 25.5, 53.6 and 1:21.2. Junior Brett Moulton of Santiago (Corona) was second at 1:51.52 for the second -est time in the state and Malik Hayes of Quartz Hill was third at 1:53.06 for the fourth-fastest time in the state. Hartle then came back and anchored Centennial's distance medley relay in 4:12.8 for a nation-leading time of 10:05.84. Great Oak was second at 10:09.50 for the second-best time in the state and third-best time in the nation.

Edwards, who won the 800 last year in 2:13.35, defended her title with a season best of 2:09.16 to rank No. 5 in the nation. Later, she returned in the sprint medley relay with a 2:13.0 to give Littleton a 4:04.41 for the fifth-fastest time in the nation. Great Oak with Michael Hewitt running 1:52.6, won the boys' sprint medley relay in 3:26.37 for a state-leading time and the fourth-fastest time in the nation. St. John Bosco was second at 3:28.78.

In the girls field events, junior Sasha Wallace took over the national lead in the triple jump with a 42-4 ¾ effort. Also with state-leading performances were Alexis Faulknor of Serra (Gardena) in the long jump at 19-9¾ and Nikki Okwelogu of Clovis West (Fresno) in the discus at 153-9. In the shot put, Tanya Sapa of La Sierra (Riverside) defeated freshman Nia Britt of Alemany (Mission Hills), 47-10 ¾ to 46-6 ¾. Earlier in the year, Britt threw 48-9 in a dual meet, which represented a six-foot improvement but with her effort here, her performance in the dual meet is much more believable.

Junior Walter Jones of Redlands, who was third at the Arcadia Invitational with a personal best of 23-4, improved again, this time by more than a foot to win the boys' long jump at 24-5 for the best jump in the state and the second-best jump in the nation. National leader Ethan Cochran of Newport Harbor (Newport Beach) won the discus at 193-07 but had to settle for second in the shot put behind Garrett Weinreich of Arroyo Grande, 59-9¼ to 57-11. Weinreich was second in the discus at 179-9.

In the final events of the evening, Rio Mesa won the boys 4 x 400 relay in 3:16.42 for the fastest time in the state and Silverado (Victorville) won the girls' race in 3:50.67 for the third-fastest team time in the state.