At the second-to-last Heritage League track and field meet of the season, Solomon Strader was the anchor for Trinity Classical Academy’s 4×400 meter relay team.
As he was passed the baton, his team was in fourth place. When he finished his lap, the team was in first.
“I was able to go from fourth to first and win, but it was just pretty cool to see the entire team kind of go from sleepy, ‘I want to go home’ mode, to excited,” Strader said.
Strader didn’t just excite at the league level, however. He impressed all the way up to the state level, a feat that earned him the title of All-SCV Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Trinity’s track team just completed its second year of existence. Strader is a freshman. So all of this was uncharted territory for everyone.
“It was a fun, good experience, met a lot of new people,” Strader said. “I wasn’t really used to all the attention and kind of didn’t know how to handle it.”
But with the help of his family, Trinity coach Brian Bixler and private trainer and former Olympian Denean Hill, Strader found his focus.
He became the highest-placing track and field athlete from the SCV at the 2017 CIF state meet, reaching the podium after a sixth-place finish in the 400 meters. He also set a new PR of 47.76 seconds in that race.
Strader saw success in the 200, too, finishing fourth at the CIF-Southern Section finals.
“It was my first year,” Strader said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, and I think every meet I got a little bit more nervous but a little bit more excited because I know I could make it to state. But it’s just an unbelievable experience.”
Instead of taking the summer to train for the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships, held in Sacramento, Strader opted to take the summer off to recharge.
In a few weeks, he’ll start strength and flexibility training. Shortly after that, he’ll be back on the track and preparing for another run at state.
“This year was just to make (the state meet) and see what I can do, but now I know that I can make it … hopefully I can go from sixth place to maybe top five, top three …,” Strader said.
“It’s going to take a lot of training and sacrifice, but I do want to get back. But I’m kind of enjoying my vacation right now.”
All-SCV Boys Track and Field Team
Gabriel Coronado, Golden Valley, senior
Coronado was one of two SCV male athletes to make it to the state meet after a third-place finish in discus at the CIF Masters Meet. He performed well in both discus and shot, nabbing the top spot among all Foothill League throwers this season in both events.
Blake Walkowiak, Saugus, senior
Walkowiak was the Cents’ best thrower in both the shot put and discus. He was 3 inches away from qualifying for the state meet in discus, throwing 165 feet, 4 inches at the Masters Meet. He was consistent competition for Coronado all season, ranking second in league in both events.
Steven Arrington, Canyon, senior
Arrington improved vastly from the time he stepped onto the Canyon track scene. At the Foothill League finals, he placed first in the 200 and second in the 100. It was his second consecutive year as a league champion in the 100.
Sam Pica, Valencia, senior
With decathlon goals, Pica competed in all sorts of events this season. His league-topping 400 time of 48.08 was also a new all-time Valencia best. He was also league champion in the long jump and was part of the league champion Vikings 4×100 relay team. In pole vault, he bested all Foothill League athletes by clearing 6-4, but did not compete in that event in the league finals.
Mya Davis, West Ranch, sophomore
It was pretty common to see Davis double in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles this season, although he was stronger in the latter. He came in first in the 300 hurdles at Foothill League finals and had the top time in league all season at 40.86 seconds. He was the fourth-ranked hurdler in the 110 race.
John Campbell, Hart, senior
Campbell and his brother Nelson were both major contributors to Hart this season in pole vault and triple jump, but John edged out his sibling in the pole vault this year, making it to the CIF-SS finals by clearing 14 feet at prelims.
Justin Sherfey, West Ranch, senior
There were a lot of good boys distance runners in the Foothill League, but Sherfey was the only one to rank in the top three in the 800, 1600 and the 3200. At the Foothill League finals, he came in first in the 800, clocking one minute, 59.68 seconds, and the 1600 at 4:24.91.
Joshua Pikes, Valencia, senior
Pikes could both run and jump. He was a part of the Valencia 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams in addition to running the 200 and the 110 hurdles. Just .04 seconds separated him from the top 200 time in league this season, although he made up for it with the fastest 110 hurdles time. At the CIF-SS D1 finals, he came in ninth in the 200.