TORRANCE — Heading into the last 200 meters of the boys 4×400 relay, Valencia’s JaCore Johnson had one objective:
“I’ve just go to keep moving because my body, it stiffens up,” Johnson said. “So if my legs aren’t working, I just move my arms and it just pulled me through.”
Johnson’s late push in the last leg of the 4×4 relay helped the Vikings secure sixth place in the event at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet and a trip to the CIF state meet.
The group of Tanner Berney, Kai Wingo, Antonio Marroquin and Johnson clocked three minutes, 18.44 seconds to become the first Valencia relay team to make it to the state meet.
“The kids, they listen, they work hard,” said Vikings relay coach James Berkley. “We started ever since the first semester training hard, that’s just our motto. Work hard. We’ve got to work hard. It paid off. It paid off today.”
Johnson, who moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in July from New Jersey, also qualified for the CIF state meet in the 400. He recorded 48.64 for sixth place.
The senior saw competing in two events at the Masters Meet as an advantage rather than a hindrance.
“It kind of helps me out, gets me ready and motivated for the 4×4,” he said. “Gets me nice and warmed up.”
Golden Valley joined the Vikings in the relay and although they didn’t succeed in making the cut for the state meet, the Grizzlies were grateful to compete.
Antonio Abrego, Khalil Woodard, Tyler Walker and Samuel Malik logged 3:23.59 for a ninth-place finish.
“We were shocked and we worked really hard as a team and we care for each other, we love each other,” Woodard said. “We had a good run while it lasted. Hopefully we can do the same next year.”
With no seniors on the 4×4 relay team, GV provided healthy competition for the more experienced Valencia relay group throughout the Foothill League season and beyond.
“I don’t think my teammates knew we were going to make it until we actually like, made it to the (CIF-SS finals last week),” said Woodard. “After we knew about Masters, we just got really excited and all we saw was just Valencia. We just saw Valencia go up too.
“We’re like all right, we can probably get them, but we didn’t and hopefully next year we’ll catch them.”