STATE CHAMPIONS (School, mark)
BOYS – 100: Randall Carroll (Cathedral) 10.38; 200: Randall Carroll (Cathedral) 21.08; 400: Reggie Wyatt (La Sierra) 46.13; 800: Sean Krinik (Valencia) 1:51.83; 1,600: Mac Fleet (University) 4:05.33; 3,200: Chris Schwartz (Foothill) 8:51.60; 110 HH: Dale Morgan (Taft) 13.76; 300 IH: Reggie Wyatt (La Sierra) 36.71; 400 relay: Serra-Gardenia (Marcus Johnson, Devan Spann, Anthony Carpenter, Robert Woods) 40.67; 1,600 relay: Orange Lutheran (Ishia Huse, Terrance Brown, Damani Wilson, Kyle Dravis) 3:14.53; HJ: Nick Rose (Vista Murrieta) 7-1; PV: Michael Woepse (Mater Dei) 16-5; LJ: Chase Wheeler (De La Salle) 25-2¼;TJ: Hammed Suleman (Deer Valley) 49-7½; SP: Matt Darr (Frontier) 62-1¼; Discus: Matt Darr (Frontier) 192-0. .
GIRLS – 100: Valexsia Droughn (Rio Mesa) 11.54; 200: Ashton Purvis (St. Elizabeth) 23.46; 400: Turquoise Thompson (Serra) 53.10; 800: Aly Drake (Valencia V) 2:07.45; 1,600: Sammy Silva (Academy Olp) 4:47.67; 3,200: Jordan Hasay (Mission Prep) 10:05.29; 100 H: Kori Carter (Claremont) 13.59; 300 H: Kori Carter (Claremont) 41.26; 400 relay: Long Beach Poly (Carisma Lyday, Melia Cox, Destiny Grammage, Akawkaw Ndipagbor) 45.88; 1,600 relay: Serra (Maya Brown, Dawnielle Baucham, Urina Harrell, Turquoise Thompson) 3:42.91; HJ: Adrienne Johnson (Carondelet) 5-8; PV: Kortney Rose (Westview) 13-4; LJ: Karyn Dunn (Diamond Ranch) 20-3¼; TJ: Ciarra Brewer (James Logan, 42-11½ ; SP: Anna Jelmini (Shafter) 50-5¾ ; Discus: Anna Jelmini (Shafter) 186-9.
TEAM SCORES (TOP 10)
BOYS: Frontier 20, Cathedral 20, La Sierra 20, Clovis East 20, Taft 18, De La Salle 16, Serra-Gardenia 16, Ayala 14, Vista Murrieta 13, Orange Lutheran 12, Granite Hills 12.
GIRLS: Long Beach Poly 45, Serra-Gardenia 28, Rancho Bernardo 23, Shafter 20, Claremont 20, Moreau Catholic 16, Diamond Ranch 16, Marlborough 14, Highland 14, Pinewood 12, James Logan 12, Leland 12.
* See complete trials and finals results (click here).
CLOVIS, Calif. – It was a perfectly symmetrical, painful, dramatic, gritty finish for Turquoise Thompson.
Fittingly, she finished in a heap, laid out, battered, scraped and bruised.
Only this time she was ultimately triumphant, at last a state champion, in her final individual race, the California Interscholastic Federation 400-meter finals at picturesque Veteran’s Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High School Saturday.
On a day when one of the sport’s greatest distance runners Jordan Hasay punctuated her career with a fourth straight title, on a day more than a dozen nationally-recognized athletes recorded nationally-recognized efforts – see the day’s top 10 storylines below – Thompson’s courageous four-year plight to the top stood out.
1. Survival of the Strongest
One of the nation’s most gifted and talented runners, the Serra (Gardena) senior and UCLA-bound standout had endured a prep career laced with injuries, mishaps and even a major fall, one just last week when she clipped the next-to-last barrier in an event she seemed destined to win a state championship, the 300 intermediate hurdles at the Southern Section Masters race.
Thompson pulled herself off the ground of that race – one she was leading easily over everyone including defending state champion Kori Carter – and finished dead last.
With a bandaged left knee she got through a painful week of practice, persevered in the 400 trials on Friday, then, even with an additional sore left hamstring – the same one that ended her entire sophomore campaign – Thompson simply willed herself around the track.
With a dive at the finish line, she nipped defending state champion Akawkaw Ndipagbor by the slimmest of margins, 53.10 to 53.12 – the second and third best times in the country this season – to win her first state crown in front of 9,517 fans.
Like the previous week, she found herself on the ground looking upward. This time, however, she was beaming on the inside, not screaming.
Thompson, a cool customer whose feelings are difficult to read, said it all hit her while on her back just a couple feet in front of the finish line.
“I felt very emotional then,” she said. “I knew I had won because they had called out my name (first). I just immediately looked up and thanked God.
“It was definitely rewarding. I’ve had a long career in high school. … but today I won the 400 and got a state title before I left high school. That was a goal for me.”
A couple hours later she earned her second title, on the day’s final girls event, anchoring home Serra’s 1,600 relay team in a time of 3 minutes, 42.91 seconds, ahead of her former school Poly (3:45.73), which won its 10th team championship.
While her individual title showed off her personal hardships, the relay win with teammates Maya Brown, Dawnielle Baucham and Urina Harrell was a precious bonus for all the extra hard work.
The time was a school record and second best time in the country this year.
“I’m so proud of all my teammates,” she said. “It’s definitely been a hard road to this point but I don’t necessarily feel like any of it should have been easy. Life can be tough and sometimes you need to go through things like I’ve had to go through. I believe things happen for a reason.”
The slim, strong and long-legged standout finished fifth in the 400 as a freshman.
“That wasn’t bad at all,” she said.
But her hamstring pull ended her sophomore season abruptly. She then transferred from Long Beach Poly to Serra where her mother Lori Smith-Thompson took over as head track and field coach.
Under CIF rules, Thompson had to sit out a season.
“That was one of the hardest years of my life not being able to compete,” she said.
Determined to make up for lost time, all was going according to plan her senior season – especially through almost her entire showdown last week with Carter. Earlier in the Master’s meet she had edged Ndipagbor in the 400 finals (53.45 to 53.77) and she was clearly winning her battle with the national leader in the 300 hurdles.
But the fall not only cost her the Southern Section title, but seriously threatened her state-meet status. Would her injured knee allow her to compete in the open 400 and the team’s 1,600 relay team?
“I was definitely sore all week,” she said. “And I didn’t even practice Wednesday or Thursday.”
After qualifying third in Friday’s prelims and anchoring the fourth-ranked 1,600 relay team, she didn’t warm down properly, she said. She felt a serious twinge in her left and troubled hamstring.
“I was very scared I wouldn’t be 100 percent (Saturday),” she said. “But I thought hey, this is my last high school meet and just go out and give it everything.
"I definitely gave it all I had and everything I could. I almost ran out (of energy) at the end but I still pulled it off.”
Ndipagbor, who anchored Poly’s 1,600 and victorious 400 relay team, was gracious afterward. She and Thompson were age-group teammates under Thompson’s mom and the families are still close.
Ndipagbor said Friday Thompson was someone she greatly respected and admired.
“She was simply the better runner than me today,” she said after Saturday’s 400.
Said Thompson: “(Ndipagbor) is a great competitor and runner. It could have been anybody’s race. It was survival of the fittest.”
2. Hasay’s final hurrah
One of the most celebrated female distance runners in state history Jordan Hasay (Mission Prep, San Luis Obispo) didn’t disappoint with a workmanlike performance all by her lonesome, winning her fourth straight 3,200 in 10 minutes, 5.29 seconds, the best mark in the nation this year.
It was well off her winning time of last year, when she nipped then Davis senior Laurynne Chetelat in arguably the greatest high school 3,200 ever run, 9:52.136 to 9:52.516.
This time – as has been the case for most of the season – Hasay was never pushed as she won by more than 18 seconds over runner-up Molly Grabill (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego), who finished in 10:23.75.
Hasay, the national record in the 1,500 and a 2006 Olympic Trials finalist, probably could have doubled in the 1,600, but wanted to guarantee a clean sweep.
“I wanted to make certain to get four straight,” Hasay said. “It’s California and you can’t underestimate the competition. I wanted to be certain to be fresh. I didn’t want to risk anything.”
The petite 5-foor-4 blond-haired Oregon-bound standout took a victory lap after the race to an appreciative crowd, who seemed quite aware they were witnessing one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Hasay won her second national cross-country title in the fall and finished with eight state titles between the two sports.
“It was great,” she said. “I tried to enjoy every lap of the race. The first mile I went out super fast. I think I just got a little too excited and then I was a little tired the last half.”
3. Carroll beats field and expectation
Cathedral (Los Angeles) senior Randall Carroll seemed exhausted.
Sure, he ran in the two shortest races in track and field, but for the second straight year he swept the sprints, winning the 100 in 10.38 and 200 in 21.08, off from his season bests of 10.30 (national best) and 21.06 (No. 3 nationally).
He won both races rather handily – by sprinter’s standards – over Fountain Valley (Fullerton) junior Kyle Middlebrooks (10.57) and Crenshaw (Los Angeles) sophomore (21.35), but clearly Carroll was highly relieved.
The pressure of repeating weighed heavy all season.
“You heart if from everyone,” said Carroll, who is also a blue chip football recruit who will play football next fall at UCLA. “You want to repeat, but there’s so much pressure to fail. The pressure was tough but I think I handled it well. I came out with the wins.”
More pressure was added when Cathedral’s favorite 400 relay team dropped the baton before it got to Carroll’s anchor leg.
He felt like he needed to win for his teammates, sophomore Devion Gregory and juniors Taj Hasson and Anthony Jefferson as well.
They came in with the third best qualifying time from Friday’s trials.
“It was pretty disappointing to see the rest of my team and the expressions on their faces,” he said. “It was the only race they were going to run today. I wanted it for them so they could come home with something.”
He finished with four gold medals after winning last season in times of 10.42 and 20.91. During an 8-3 football season for the Phantoms, Carroll accounted for more than 1,100 yards and six touchdowns.
“It’s been a real good (senior) year but hasn’t hit me that it’s over yet,” he said. “Maybe on the ride back to LA. It’s a big relief (to repeat), like a bunch of weight has been lifted off my shoulder. … I think I handled it well. … The determination I had this year really paid off.”
4. Wyatt’s record-breaking weekend
La Sierra (Riverside) senior Reggie Wyatt didn’t enjoy the fanfare of Friday’s trials when he broke a national 300 hurdles record, but his winning smile was just as large.
Maybe twice as wide for two victories.
After recording a tough and rugged win in the open 400 in a season-best time of 46.13 over Chino Hills junior Josh Mance (46.41) and Serra (Gardena) junior Robert Woods (46.67), Wyatt ran out of gas but had enough left to win his premier event, the 300 hurdles in 36.71.
On Friday, he shattered the national mark in 35.02. On Saturday, he barely edged a tremendous charge from Taft (Los Angeles) junior Dale Morgan, the 110 hurdles champ, who finished in 36.98.
Afterward, Wyatt couldn’t have been happier.
His 400 time was the second best in the country this year, bettered only by Tavaris Tate (
) who went 45.71.
“I did everything I wanted to do,” he said. “I finished off my senior year with a bang. It was awesome.”
Asked if he’d ever run on the Buchanan track before Friday and he confessed he’d never been to Clovis before Friday.
“It’s a fast track and I love it here,” he said. “I’ll have to come back and I will come back soon.”
5. Carter wins twice with grace
She was the national leader in both events, so Claremont junior Kori Carter figured to sweep the hurdle races.
The vivacious standout did, winning the 100 hurdles in season/national best of 13.59 and 300 hurdles in 41.26, just off her best of 41.09.
She had only the fourth best qualifying time in the 100 hurdles from Friday’s trials (13.99) and seventh best in the 300 hurdles (43.68).
Carter wasn’t panicked Friday and knew her competitive spirit and technique would prevail.
“The 100 hurdles are all about technique and I’m a good hurdler and have good technique so it was to run that time and win,” she said. “That was my goal to get in the 13.5s. It was a good PR.”
Carter’s most impressive display might have been before the 100 hurdles, when Etiwanda senior Monisha Davis appeared to be hyperventilating. Carter, who always seems to see the big picture, spent most of her pre-race warm-up trying to calm Davis, who finished fourth in 13.98.
Carter and Davis run out of the same league and constantly compete.
“She was just a little nervous,” Carter said. “The state is a big stage for sure. But as hurdlers, we’re a big family so we have to stick together. We’re close enough to be teammates. I’m sure she’d do the same for me.”
6. Wheeler dealer in clutch
De La Salle (Concord) senior Chase Wheeler is a quiet kid. Low key and subdued. So when he speaks and goes so far as to make a bold prediction, like leap 25 feet in the long jump, his teammates know he’s quite serious.
Wheeler, on his second-to-last attempt, indeed was convicted and broke the magic 25-foot barrier for the first time in his solid career to win with a mark of 25-2¼, to edge the Gahr (Cerritos) senior Aaron Bradley (25-0¼).
It was the second best long jump in the country this year, just off Justin Hunter (Ocean Lakes, Chesapeake, Va.) who went 25-3¾.
Wheeler improved his personal best by more than a foot, and recorded the second best long jump by a North Coast Section athlete, the best being 25-4 ¼ by Piedmont’s Monte Upshaw way back in 1954.
Wheeler was only the state leader this season once and that was at the end. Good timing, eh Chase?
“My goal whole season was to get to 25 feet,” he said. “It was either go 25 feet or go home. … This couldn’t happen any better…. I love the competition. When Aaron went jumped 25 feet, I wouldn’t say I was happy, but that’s what drives me.”
Wheeler didn’t have much time to enjoy his title. He had to race to the track to run the third leg of the 400 relay team. It was perhaps the best leg of his season as De La Salle ran a school record and bettered its goal of 40.90, finishing third in 40.85, behind winner Serra-Gardena (40.67) and Long Beach Poly (40.75).
Wheeler, a 6-1, 170-pound senior who was a starting defensive back on the football team, ran with football teammates Terron Ward, Ken Agu and Tyler Anderson, all juniors.
“We thought if we beat our goal we could win the title,” Wheeler said. “We ran a good race. We always like to win at De La Salle but we can’t be disappointed with how we did.”
It might be a good matchup next year of all three teams, which each have three underclassmen returning. Serra fought from behind with the squad of senior Anthony Carpenter and juniors Marcus Johnson, Devan Spann and Robert Woods.
Poly had senior Jaron May, juniors Kire Jibril and Kalen Clay and sophomore Cameron White.
Interestingly none of the 12 runners were in the 100 finals.
Wheeler didn’t know he was the winner of the long jump until he was on the victory stand for the 400 relay. The public address announcer actually announced Wheeler the winner, but there was still one round of jumps to go.
While on the stand and only Bradley to go, Wheeler watched the talented Gahr jumper go but his mark was short at 24-4. Only then could Wheeler breathe a sigh of relief.
“I knew (the announcer) was wrong, but I wasn’t tripping,” Wheeler said. “I could tell by the crowd he didn’t (get over 25 feet).”
7. Purvis not nervous
After false starting in her main event during Friday’s 100 trials, St. Elizabeth (Oakland) junior Ashton Purvis had to wait seemingly forever for the 200 finals and showdown with defending champion Jessica Davis (Highland, Palmdale).
Purvis looked more than a little determined, winning going away in 23.46 well ahead of Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) junior Angela Gradiska (23.85) and Davis (23.88). Last year Davis edged Purvis at the line 23.46 to 23.51.
Same winning time, but a different winner.
Saturday’s winning mark was the second best outdoor time in the nation this year behind
’s Chalonda Goodman (23.32), who also owns the country’s best 100 time (11.30). Purvis also had the second best time in that event at 11.48.
Friday’s false start was highly disappointing, but motivating.
“I had a long time to wait and I was getting cranky,” said Purvis, who said she combated her nerves by watching a pair of movies in her hotel room. “I was like a little baby but I feel like I redeemed myself.
“I felt good every step of the way even though I could feel Jessica on me. When we got to through the turn it was either me or her. I thought I got to get a move on. I told myself I had to make another move, make another move and that’s what I did.”
It was the second state title for Purvis, who won the 100 as a sophomore. She has placed second three other times.
“I didn’t want to take second again in the only race I was in,” she said.
8. Finishing what Droughn started
Rio Mesa sprinter Valexsia Droughn is known for her fast starts. She’s one of the best starters in the country, according to her coach Brian FitzGerald.
But the petite sophomore finished off what she started by recording a lifetime best and fourth fastest 100 time in the country, winning in 11.54 seconds, edging Davis (11.61).
She became the school’s third state 100 champion in three decades, the previous being Angela Burham (1986 – 11.76, 1988 – 11.52, 1989 – 11.31-wa) and the great Marion Jones (1990 – 11.67-wa and 1991 – 11.17), who also won titles in 1992 (11.4) and 1993 (11.61) for
“It’s an honor to be mentioned with Marion and Angela,” Droughn said. “It’s a great honor to mentioned in that same category. I’ve known Angela on a personal level. She told me to work hard and give it all to God to reach this goal.”
As usual, Droughn got off to a tremendous start and maintained her speed and strength throughout. Something she wasn’t able to do in last year’s finals when she finished eighth.
When she crossed the line Saturday, she let out a giant scream and pointed up to the sky.
She wasn’t sure the victory was possible after fighting through injuries earlier in the season. “I doubted myself,” she said. “By my (Monica) mom kept my head on. I would have lost my mind. I was so mad at myself for (getting hurt).”
The only regret, she said, was that Purvis wasn’t in the race. A warm, compassionate sort, Droughn was visibly upset when she saw Purvis false start on Friday.
“I was so disappointed,” she said. “I was hurt for her. I felt her pain, I really did. It was just heartache for me. Plus, I wanted to race her. I really wanted to see where I was at, to see if I was at her level.”
Her time was just 0.06 off Purvis’ outside best this season.
“(Purvis) had an excellent season and pray for her next season,” Droughn said.
9. A different finish for Schwartz
One of the best and humbling second-place finishes in state history occurred to Foothill (Bakersfield) distance runner Chris Schwartz last year.
At Cerritos College in Norwalk, Schwartz ran a blistering time of 8:58.50 which was easily a PR and one of the top times in the country.
The humbling news was that he finished a remarkable 24 seconds behind the remarkable German Fernandez (Riverbank), who set a national mark of 8:34.23.
That was a year ago.
On Saturday, however, in one of the deepest and most competitive 3,200 state races ever, Schwartz got both PR and the glory, winning in 8:51.60 over Rancho Buena Vista (San Diego) senior Collin Jarvis (8:53.78).
An impressive eight runners broke the magical nine-minute mark, but Schwartz, utilizing his well-known kick, was the most determined and perhaps most rested.
He hadn’t been challenged much all season in his Central Section, he said, and though he hadn’t close to bettering nine minutes, he was confident he could prevail.
“I just wanted it really, really bad,” Schwartz said. “Last year I wasn’t going to outrun German. I just tried to stick with him as long as I could. My goal this year was to make sure I got first.
“My goal all year was to break nine minutes, but it just didn’t happen. I smashed it today.”
10. Double Central Section powers
It’s nothing new really. The Central Section has a history of dominating the weights. But this. …this was truly dominating.
As expected, national discus record holder Anna Jelmini (Shafter) won both her events handily, taking the discus (186-9) and shot put (50-5 ¾) while Frontier (Bakersfield) junior Matt Darr captured the shot put (62-1¼) and the discus (192-0), helping his team to a co-championship.
Darr, who just last week committed to USC’s football team as a punter, collected two more gold medals for Kern County throwers, giving them, according to Bakersfield Californian staff writer Zach Ewing, 15 in state history.
That’s the same amount as Kern County girls, thanks largely to Jelmini, who was a double winner for the second straight year.
Her winning discus toss was a state meet record but just off her national mark of 190-3 done earlier this season. In the shot put, she set a state-meet record in Friday’s trials going 53-8, off her best of 54-4¾, which ranks second best nationally all-time.
that he’s been throwing with Anna for the last four years.
“To share a state title with her on the same day, it's like a dream come true,” he said.
James Logan (Union City
) junior Ciarra Brewer
pulled off the 10th
biggest triple jump in high school history, going 42-11½ to win. It was the best mark in the country this season only a week after she slightly pulled her hamstring: “I didn’t think my season was over (when the injury occurred) but I didn’t think I would do as well as I did today,” she said. “With state being just around the corner, I was real scared. But god answered my prayers to do my best and it all worked out.” … Poly’s girls
repeated as champions and now have won 10 titles under coach Don Norford
since 1991. … Junior Kortney Rose
(Westview, San Diego
) won the pole vault at 13-4 and Diamond Ranch (Pomona
) senior Karyn Dunn
took the long jump (20-3¼) with the third and second best marks in the nation this year, respectively. …The 20 points scored each by Frontier, Cathedral, La Sierra and Clovis East was the lowest total for winning boys team since 1982, when Crenshaw and Mission Viejo
tied for the crown. … It
was only the fourth time teams there were boys team champions and the first time more than two had tied. ... The two-day attendance total was a resounding 17,660 with 8,143 showing up for Friday's trials and another 9,517 on Saturday. ... The unseasonably mild temperatures - between 75 and 80 degrees - contributed to the near sellout crowd on Saturday.
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com.