With more than 7,000 spectators packed into the Arcadia High bleachers, the largest crowd to see an Arcadia Invitational since 2001 when miler Alan Webb was energizing fans to love high school track and field, Saturday’s 54th edition provided the perfect setting for USC-bound sprinter Max Thomas of Anaheim Servite to show off his rocket-like speed in a loaded 100 meters.
Thomas got out of the blocks strong, and that meant no one was going to catch him. “Once I get to my top speed, I feel it’s over,” he said.
He won in 10.40 seconds, defeating fellow Trinity League sprinter Rayshon Luke of Bellflower St. John Bosco (10.45). Jaelon Barbarin of Simi Valley (10.50) was third and Rodrick Pleasant of Gardena Serra (10.51) finished fourth. Later in the night, Thomas won the 200 in 20.97.
To become the fastest sprinter in California, Thomas gave up playing soccer this fall to work on his track form. He planned to focus on the 400 this season, then changed his mind after running a fast 100 during a meet at Redondo Union. “OK, it looks like I should be running the 100,” he told himself.
Now he has stamped himself as the one to beat for a state championship next month. It still won’t be easy in a year with lots of runners running fast times, but he said, “I’m making a statement today for me.”
In the field events, no one was better than senior JC Stevenson of Temecula Great Oak. He won the long jump with an effort of 24 feet, 9½ inches and also took the triple jump at 48-3. His older brother, CJ, was a two-time state champion at Great Oak.
What made this Arcadia Invitational different from last year’s event was moving on from COVID-19 protocols. Out-of-town and out-of-state competitors couldn’t compete in 2021. This time, athletes from Idaho, Texas, Washington, Arizona and Georgia won events.
In the girls’ competition, freshman Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura set a meet record in winning the mile in 4:35.16.
Georgia commit Autumn Wilson from St. Dominic Savio in Austin, Texas, won the 100 in 11.49 and the 200 in 23.68. Twin sisters Amanda and Hana Moll from Capital High in Olympia, Wash., finished first and second in the pole vault at 14-4 and 13-10, respectively.
Dalia Frias of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa brought the crowd to their feet running a meet-record time of 9:55.50 to win the girls’ 3,200.
In the 400, junior Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills finished second to Avaunt Ortiz of Tucson McClintock. Ortiz ran 47.22 and Stanley rallied from lane No. 8 to finish in 47.26.
“The finish was all heart,” he said. “Last year I didn’t make this. I didn’t come in first place, but the feeling is amazing.”
Stanley is a one-man cheering section for City Section sports. “People overlook the City Section,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, senior Christoper Goode of Santa Clarita West Ranch improved his best time in the 400 by more than two seconds in winning his open race in a scorching 47.05, the best time of the day or night. He moved to the area from Chester, Va., two years ago. He finished third in the 400 last season in Division 2. His best time had been 48.64. He seemed to like the hot conditions during the day meet.
“It was scorching hot,” he said.
In the boys’ 3,200, the Newbury Park duo of Colin Sahlman and Leo Young had quite a duel before Sahlman prevailed in 8:34.99. Young ran 8:35.72.