Culver City duo takes aim at a state track meet double in the 400

Culver City's Morgan Maddox, left, and Duaine Mayrant pose for a photo.
Culver City's Morgan Maddox, left, and Duaine Mayrant will try to "double" in the 400 meters Saturday night at the state track and field championships in Clovis. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Morgan Maddox and Duaine Mayrant hope they can pull off a Culver City “double” Saturday at the state track and field championships at Buchanan High’s Veterans Stadium in Clovis.

At Friday’s preliminaries each took first place in their heats in perhaps the most challenging event — the 400-meter dash — an all-out sprint around the oval that leaves even the most finely tuned athletes out of breath.

Mayrant’s 47.60 was the fourth-fastest time for the boys, 36th hundredths of a second behind leading qualifier Dylan Ochoa from Northview. The Culver City junior did not even run track last season.

“I was No. 1 in the state at league finals before Dylan beat me at Masters,” said Mayrant, whose personal best of 47.09 was set at Southern Section finals and equaled last week. “I run the 800 too but the 400 and 200 are my favorites. I was trying to qualify today, not trying for a PR. It would be great if we both won … that’s the plan.”

Meanwhile, Maddox clocked 53.62 for the top qualifying time in the girls’ 400 and would like nothing more than to break her PR of 53.50, which she achieved in winning the Southern Section Division 2 title, in Saturday’s championship heat, having settled for second place last week at the Masters Meet in Moorpark.

“I had prom that same night at California Science Center [near USC],” Maddox said, explaining her runner-up finish at Masters. “We run with different people but we do the same workouts and we’re always hyping each other up. We just need to execute our plan tomorrow and it’ll happen.”

Mt. Miguel's Brandon Arrington Jr. (middle) beats Granada Hills' Jordan Coleman (left) to the finish line in a 100-meter heat
Mt. Miguel's Brandon Arrington Jr. (middle) beats Granada Hills' Jordan Coleman (left) to the finish line in the first heat of the 100-meter dash.

The senior has yet to decide where she is going to college but she would catch the eye of recruiters if she were to prevail in either the 200 — in which she posted the fastest qualifying time at 23.60 — or the 400 Saturday.

No race generated more excitement Friday than the boys’ 100-meter dash. San Diego Section champion Brandon Arrington Jr., a sophomore from Mt. Miguel, posted the swiftest qualifying time, a wind-aided 10.27 — the fastest time in California this year — just minutes after Bakersfield sophomore Jalen Ford won his heat in a wind-aided 10.34. Long Beach Poly freshman Benjamin Harris won Heat 2 in 10.52 (also wind-aided) for the third-fastest time.

Granada Hills senior and reigning City Section champion Jordan Coleman matched his personal best of 10.36 in finishing second to Arrington in Heat 1 with the fourth-best time overall. Securing the last five spots for Saturday’s finals were Concord De La Salle freshman Jaden Jefferson (10.40), Los Alamitos junior Devin Bragg (10.49), Los Altos senior Nathaniel Guillory (10.51) Eastvale Roosevelt senior Jeremiah Harris (10.53) and Valencia sophomore Brian Bonner (10.57).

An indication of how fast all three heats were was the fact that Bishop Alemany freshman Demare Dezeurn, who clocked 10.36 to win the Southern Section Masters Meet last week, ran 10.59 but only got sixth in Heat 1 and 13th overall, failing to qualify for the finals.

“I tied my PR so I’m satisfied. … I always feel I need to get out a little harder but the beginning and ending were good,” Coleman said. “I’m going to have two super-fast guys next to me tomorrow so the last 15 meters I’ll have to keep pumping my arms and hold my form through the finish.”

Gardena Serra’s Rodrick Pleasant, who is now at Oregon, set the state record of 10.20 as a senior last year and while his “fastest ever” title is in jeopardy, one thing is clear: there will be a new boys' 4x100 relay state champion.

Granada Hills entered the event having clocked 40.29 — the fifth-fastest time in state history and eighth fastest in the nation this year— and easily won its heat Friday, but a yellow flag was raised on the backstretch and following several agonizing minutes the Highlanders learned they had committed a zone violation and would not be moving on to Saturday’s finals.

“Whenever you DQ at state it’s going to affect you,” Coleman said. “We never got an explanation for why, but I couldn’t dwell on it.”

Having no trouble moving the baton around the track were the Calabasas girls, who followed their winning 45.71 Masters effort with a top qualifying time of 45.90 in Friday’s first heat, followed by Heat 2 winner Long Beach Poly (45.99), Heat 3 winner Carson (46.10) and Oaks Christian, which held off Ayala to win Heat 4 in 46.33 thanks to a blazing anchor leg by reigning state 100-meter champion Niya Clayton.

“There’s room for improvement, but we just have to rest tonight and I feel good about tomorrow,” said senior Zoe Ray, who ran the third leg on the 4x100, placed third in her heat to qualify in the 400, then ran the anchor leg on the Coyotes’ 4x400 relay, which qualified second overall behind Long Beach Poly.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's JJ Harel clears the bar at 6-6 to advance to Saturday's state high jump finals.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's JJ Harel clears the bar at 6-6 to advance to Saturday's state high jump finals. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Arrington (20.55) and Coleman (20.83) also won their heats and had the two fastest qualifying times in the 200 with Bragg (21.25) third and Poly freshman Julius Johnson (21.46) fourth.

“The 200 was a huge PR,” added Coleman, whose previous best in the event was 21.01 at Arcadia last year. “I got two PRs today, I felt strong overall and I’m confident I can medal in both tomorrow.”

Coleman opted not to skip the 4x400 relay to save his strength for his individual events Saturday.

Ventura distance running phenom Sadie Engelhardt arrived at state with two goals in mind —winning her third straight 1,600 crown and helping the Cougars win the 4x800 relay. As expected, she took the first step toward the first goal by separating from the pack rounding the final straightaway to win her four-lap heat in 4:50.52 to lead all qualifiers. On Saturday she will try to break the meet record of 4:33.45 she set as a sophomore last spring.

Competing in the long jump and high jump simultaneously was no problem for Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks, who cleared both of his heights on the first try to lead all qualifiers in the high jump at 6-6. Notre Dame sophomore JJ Harel and Mater Dei junior Brandon Gorski were also among those advancing at 6-6.

After winning the state 300 hurdles in 41.57 last year, Long Beach Wilson junior Kaylin Edwards will not defend her title Saturday, finishing 10th overall in 43.62 after posting the second-best seed time (42.03). Earlier, she qualified sixth in the 100 hurdles, three spots behind Marlborough’s Fallyn Gowans (14.25), who won her heat.

Marlborough senior Fallyn Gowans, cengter, leads the field i winning her 100-meter hurdles heat in 14.25 seconds.
Marlborough senior Fallyn Gowans wins her 100-meter hurdles heat in 14.25 seconds. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Canyon Country Canyon senior Mikaela Warr was second in the girls’ 100 meters (11.55), Garden Serra senior Mia Flowers was fourth (11.65), Carson sophomore Christina Gray took fifth (11.58), Royal sophomore Olivia Kirk was sixth (11.59), Chaparral junior Keelan Wright was seventh (11.63), Clayton was eighth (11.59) and Marley Scoggins, who anchored Calabasas’ 4x100, ran 11.71 to nab the last qualifying spot.

Notre Dame junior Aja Johnson heads to Saturday’s finals with the second-best marks in both the discus (152-08) and shot put (44-02.25).

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.