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Fryer: Hurdles showdown looms in Arcadia Invitational
Every Arcadia Invitational has a few races and events that will provide great competition and excitement.
This year, the boys 300-meter hurdles will be one of those races at Arcadia, which outside of the CIF sectional and state meets is annually the biggest high school track and field meet in California. The meet is today and Saturday at Arcadia High.
According to the excellent DyeStatCal.com website, the 300 hurdles favorite is Isaiah Oliver of Brophy College Prep in Arizona. He finished fourth at Arcadia last year and his clocking of 37.14 seconds earlier this season is the No. 6 mark in the nation this year in high school track and field. Another out-of-state contender is Chad Zallow from Ohio, who also will be a factor in the 110 hurdles.
Orange County’s top threat in the 300 hurdles might be San Juan Hills senior Connor Meech. His time of 37.84 at this past weekend’s Trabuco Hills Invitational is second in California behind the 37.60 of San Jacinto senior Ryan Muir who also is entered at Arcadia.
San Juan Hills coach Rob Summers said Meech is improving with experience, often the case in an event as challenging as the hurdles. Getting the steps timed right, the approach to the hurdles, clearing them while maintaining a consistently high speed takes plenty of time and a lot of practice.
“You don’t really see a lot of underclassmen do well in that event,” Summers said. “Connor’s always had the speed. When he was a freshman he was just an average kid, then he got a taste of success his sophomore year when he finished in the top three in our league meet, then last year he was league champion and finished third at CIF (Southern Section meet).”
Cameron Hurd of Trabuco Hills and Cole Paton of Mission Viejo could also be factors in the 300 hurdles. Then there is Servite sophomore Ian Ward, whose rapid improvement intrigues veteran Friars coach Richard Gibbs.
“Ian’s first race, just 11/2 weeks after his soccer season ended, he ran 43-something,” Gibbs said. “Then he ran 41.90, then 40.93, then 39.93. At the Covina Invitational, Ian chopped his steps at the first hurdle and still runs a 38.39.”
That 38.39 is the fifth-fastest time in California this season and the fastest time among sophomores in the state.
“Every time he runs we say, ‘Well, that’s gotta be it, he’s plateaued’” Gibbs said. “But he keeps surprising us.”
The finals for the 300 hurdles is scheduled to start Saturday at 7:19 p.m. It should be something special, perhaps even surprising.
Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:
• Admission to Arcadia, where seating capacity is 7,500, today is $9 for adults and for students with valid student identification, and $5 for children 10 years old and younger. Saturday admission is $18 for adults and for students with valid student identification, and $5 for children 10 and younger. A two-day pass costs 25 and includes a souvenir program.
• Coming up in track and field: the Orange County Championships on April 25 at Mission Viejo.
• Girls county track and field athletes who are state leaders in their events: Cassie Durgy, Huntington Beach, 800 (2:11.19); Kaitlyn Merritt, Santa Margarita, pole vault (13-7); the Los Alamitos 1,600 relay team (4:04.69).
• Boys county track and field athletes who are state leaders in their events: Austin Tamagno, Brea Olinda, 1,600 (4:04.59); Jett Gordon, Marina, pole vault (16-0); Malik McMorris, Mater Dei, discus (190-7); the Los Alamitos 1,600 relay team (3:28.34).
• Sometimes football coaches who get hired during the winter or spring can’t be on campus because they still have commitments at another school. Zach LaMonda has to fulfill his teaching contract at Redondo Union for the remainder of the school year before he can join the faculty at El Dorado, where he recently was named football coach.
• The Register’s All-Orange County boys and girls basketball teams, as well as the boys and girls soccer teams, will be in Saturday’s OC Varsity section. Selecting All-County teams, no matter the sport, is the most challenging part of the job.
• Mater Dei junior MJ Cage and Monarchs senior Rex Pflueger are among six finalists for Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year as selected by CalHiSports.com. Other CIF-Southern Section nominees are Chino Hills junior Lonzo Ball, Maranatha of Pasadena senior Tyler Dorsey and Bishop Montgomery of Torrance senior Stephen Thompson Jr.
• Sunny Hills boys basketball coach John Wooldridge recently resigned. He has a son about to start his high school basketball career elsewhere and Wooldridge wants the time to be a dad and watch his son play. Wooldridge coached the Lancers for nine seasons that included appearances in the CIF-SS semifinals and the CIF State tournament in the 2011-12 season.
• Six county teams are in CalHiSports.com’s state softball top 20: No. 1 Mission Viejo, No. 4 Orange Lutheran, No. 9 Pacifica, No. 13 Mater Dei, No. 14 San Clemente and No. 17 Canyon.
• In the California baseball top 20: No. 1 San Clemente, No. 2 JSerra, No. 6 Dana Hills and No. 12 Edison.
• Mater Dei sophomore baseball pitcher Nick Pratto is out indefinitely because of a strained back. He committed to USC.
• The only people who did not want rain this week were the organizers of baseball and softball tournaments.
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