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Mission Viejo’s Jada Gatlin sets state-leading mark at Trabuco Hills Invitational

MISSION VIEJO — Jada Gatlin of Mission Viejo was already the top triple jumper in Orange County heading into the Trabuco Hills Invitational on Saturday at Trabuco Hills High School.

Gatlin is now the best triple jumper in the state and among the best in the nation.

Gatlin, a senior, won the triple jump with a season best jump of 40-feet, 8-inches, more than four feet longer than the second-place finisher and one inch shorter than her personal best, which she hit at the CIF State Prelims last season.

The USC signee was named the Field Athlete of the Meet Saturday and is now tied for the eighth-best triple jump distance in the nation this spring.

“I always start the season not doing super well and then over time it gets better,” Gatlin said. “I’ve just been practicing more on technique lately and I think it helped.”

Gatlin also credited her performance, in part, to the good weather, which was better than the cold rainy conditions she contended with during some invitational meets earlier in the season.

Gatlin will be competing in the triple jump and long jump at next week’s prestigious Arcadia Invitational, as will several other winners Saturday.

Sophomore Devin Bragg of Los Alamitos posted a time of 10.56 seconds in the 100 meters, fast enough to finish first in most top-tier high school track meets. But Bragt was in the same race with Serra of Gardena’s Roderick Pleasant, who won the 100 in I0.40 with Bragg taking second.

“It was fun,” Bragg said. “I didn’t expect to be that close to him, to be honest. This is only my second meet. The first meet I ran 10.70 so I’m happy with a 10:56.”

Bragg was looking forward to racing against Pleasant again in the 200 later in the meet.

However, Pleasant dropped out of the race, clearing the way for Bragg to win the event in 21.57.

Santa Margarita’s Roman Mendoza, the state’s top 300 hurdler, won that event in 38.43, a bit short of his PR of 37.91, which he set at the Pasadena Games on March 25.

“I was just too far from the first hurdle so I landed all off balance,” Mendoza said. “After that I think I recovered nicely.”

Orange County athletes swept the top three spots in the boys invitational high jump with Alan Vong of Cypress, Griffin Schwab and Edison’s Eli Kaltreider finishing first, second and third, respectively.

The boys 4×400 relay, won by the Fountain Valley quartet of Alan Martinez, Jack Todd, Jonathan Yu and Luke Dias, was one of the more exciting races of the day.

The Barons had a comfortable lead over second-place Santa Margarita going into the final leg, when Mendoza closed the gap on Dias over the final 200 meters.

Dias said that when he saw Mendoza’s shadow, he knew he had to turn it on down the stretch.

“I heard people saying, ‘you got to go faster, man,’” Dias said. “Then I noticed he was actually right behind me. I said, OK, I got to start trying now.’ “

Yu won the triple jump shortly before taking the track for the 4×400.

The Woodbridge foursome of Gabriela Arce, Hannah Wilber, Garryn Forde and Saniya Ali won the girls 4×400.

Trabuco Hills’ Jessica Davis, the county leader in the pole vault, cleared 11 feet, 3 inches to win the event.

Davis cleared 12-4 at the Irvine ASICS Track and Field Invitational earlier in the season, giving her the county’s top mark.

The Rosary 4×100 relay team finished second, but their time of 47.80 is tops in the county this season.

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