All six Foothill League track and field teams traveled to Arcadia High School on Friday and Saturday to take part in the two-day annual Arcadia Invitational, which featured over 500 schools from six different states.
Several Foothill League athletes from both the boys and girls side finished in top spots, including a handful of top-three finishes in team relays.
“The meet is completely different from any other meet because you are surrounded by some of the best athletes from some of the best programs in the nation,” said Golden Valley sophomore runner Antonio Abrego. “It’s an environment that I love competing in and everyone enjoys watching.”
“It is a very competitive meet, the top athletes from around the nation all come together so you’re running against a lot of new faces,” said West Ranch junior runner Solomon Strader. “There’s a great crowd and running under the lights provides that extra energy.”
Two senior runners took first place in separate events, with Valencia’s Kai Wingo winning the boys 800-meter with a personal record of one minute, 52.45 seconds and Hart’s Jeremiah Rasmussen winning the 1-mile race with a personal record of 4:18.84.
Abrego raced in the boys 800-meter alongside Wingo, finishing in 11th at 1:55.52. Though he knows he could have done better, he is going to use it as an opportunity to improve.
“My performance in the 800-meter was not what I was hoping for, but it was definitely a learning experience and I know I have plenty of time to improve this season. In postseason, I’m hoping to break my PR in the 800-meter of 1:53.76 and go as close to 1:50 as possible,” Abrego said. “I’m grateful to have competed in such a prestigious meet as a sophomore. It actually fuels me to do better because I have big expectations for myself as well. I want to establish myself as the best 800-meter runner to ever come from the SCV.
“I would have liked it to have been me to win, but it was good to see Kai represent for the Foothill League and win it. He’s a strong competitor and it’s always fun when we go at it.”
Strader, who also raced at the Arcadia Invitational in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, finished in third place in the boys 400-meter with a time of 47.28.
He said he switched up his strategy for this race, but said he’ll revert back to his original race plan in future competitions.
“The kid who beat me was one of the fastest in the nation, so it was definitely a challenging race. I had a different race strategy than normal and it didn’t pay off,” Strader said. “It was a great experience to run against Zach Larrier (Monterey Trail High School) who’s chasing a state title as well, but I definitely need to stick with my race plan and trust it heading into postseason.”
Golden Valley sophomore Jalen Davis finished at No. 11 in the boys 100-meter with a time of 11.06. Hart senior Joe Hylton finished 24th in the same race with a time of 11.37.
Grizzlies senior Daniel Rush set a new PR in the boys 3200-meter, finishing with a time of 9:14.27 which earned him the No. 14 spot. Rasmussen finished 22nd with a time of 9:30.71.
“Personally I wanted more for our guys, I know that we can compete on that level. Daniel, he did what he needed to do,” Golden Valley head coach Jalonick Davis said. “It’s more about learning how to run each race in that stage, in that setting, knowing when to warmup when to cool down. I think it’s more of a learning experience for this group of kids.
“It’s pretty much a measuring stick, it’s a point in the season where we’re able to really see where we are with our team. See if we’re good enough on the state level to compete with some of the best that’s out there, not only the state level, but nationally. They definitely worked hard and earned to be there.”
The Grizzlies finished eighth in the boys 4×100 relay with a team consisting of Kory Bacon, Brandon Sabelis, Davis and Samuel Malik at 42.95
Saugus placed No. 25 in the same race with the team of Kaymen Davis, Zachariah Turner, Isaiah Turner and Kodi Oshiro finishing at 43.58.
The Centurions had a second-place finish in the boys 4×200 relay, with Brandon Cruz, Oshiro and both Isaiah Turner and Zachariah Turner comprising the team that finished with a time of 1:30.62
West Ranch senior Mya Davis finished ninth in the boys 300-meter hurdles with a time of 39.50. Hart senior Cole Shirakata finished 16th in the same race with a time of 40.10.
A couple of West Ranch relay squads finished in the No. 2 spot with the team of Evan Bates, Isaiah Seidman, Dylan Gatua and Alexis Romero logging a time of 17:32.59 in the boys 4×1600.
Bates, Strader, Hunter Romine and Seidman finished in second at 10:16.49 in the distance medley relay.
“It’s always a huge honor anytime you’re considered a top runner on a national level,” Strader said. “It just shows how all the hard work has paid off over the years but at the same time, being ranked is just a stat so you can’t feed too much into it.”
For the throwers, Canyon’s Jacob Lopez placed ninth in the shot put invite with a throw of 56-7. Golden Valley’s Kienan Donovan placed 12th with a throw of 53-11 1/2. Noah Bultman of West Ranch had a throw of 50-7 in the seeded event, good for 11th place.
In the discus seeded event, Gaetano Ferrera of Saugus had a throw of 151-7, which earned him the No. 10 spot, and Donovan placed 15th with a score of 144-1.
For the girls, senior Sophia Hoelzel of West Ranch finished with a PR of 5:05.06 in the girls 1-mile. Senior Hailey Rutter of Saugus finished 10th in the girls 3200-meter with a PR of 10:49.70.
The Saugus team of Jacqueline Cascione, Rutter, Brooklyn Bendrat and Sophia Gannon finished with a time of 9:32.06 in the girls 4×800 for the No. 10 spot.
Bella Duarte, Cascione, Dani Salcedo and Hannah Fredericks scored a sixth-place finish in the girls 4×1600 at 20:55.11 Duarte, Heaven Sanchez, Salcedo and Fredericks finished in ninth in the distance medley relay with a time of 12:08.76.
West Ranch’s Natalie Ramirez, a senior, finished second in the girls shot put with a score of 45-4. Golden Valley senior Shyann Franklin came in sixth with a throw of 44-1/2.
In the girls discus, Ramirez placed fifth (151-1) and Franklin placed ninth (140).
West Ranch senior Amber Racina finished fourth in the girls pole vault with a score of 11-1 and Wildcats senior Shelbi Schauble finished in the No. 18 spot in the girls triple jump (36-3).
Foothill League competition will conclude on Thursday, with the Grizzlies looking to close out a perfect 5-0 record on the boys side and a 4-1 record on the girls side as they take on the Wildcats at West Ranch.
“This week we really have to remain focused and put an exclamation point on the season. We need to take care of ourselves physically and try and block out any distractions,” Abrego said. “We absolutely have a strong sense of pride amongst our team for putting Golden Valley on the map.”
West Ranch will do its best to try and spoil Golden Valley’s undefeated record for the boys.
“We’ve had an up-and-down season as a team, so to get the win would be great for us, but also our seniors as well. Golden Valley is an extremely talented team and I have the utmost respect for them,” Strader said. “They have a lot of depth so it won’t be easy. For us, we just have to take advantage of being at home and stay aggressive and match their intensity and I think we can pull off the upset.”
The Saugus team, with the girls already clinching at least a share of the Foothill League title, will try to finish the season strong off against Hart on the road.
Valencia will take on Canyon on the road to conclude the league season.
All meets start at 3 p.m.