Her grandparents were track legends. Her mother was a USC star. Joelle Trepagnier wants to outpace them all

The Edmonson family inside their well-decorated home (from left): Malika Edmonson, Joelle Trepagnier, Warren Edmonson.
The Edmonson family inside their well-decorated Inglewood home: from left, Malika Edmonson, Joelle Trepagnier, Warren Edmonson. (Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

A home that looks like a carbon copy of the White House sits in a quiet neighborhood in Inglewood.

It is perfectly pastel white with a finitely manicured lawn. It boasts four thin, towering columns descending from an outcrop that peeks over the front entrance. A clue that royalty lives here.

Yet most in the surrounding suburbia don't know. They couldn’t, unless they were invited inside for a tour through history, of one of the great athletic families in Los Angeles.

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From a chair in the living room, Warren Edmonson points to various items around the home that features a massive shrine to track and field greatness. There are the trophies, overflowing three massive shelves by the window, odes to Edmonson's Olympic champion wife, Barbara Ferrell Edmonson, and Warren’s UCLA days in the early 1970s as the fastest man in the world.

Framed in yellow, among dozens crowding the walls, is a news clipping of their daughters, Malika and Miya, setting the national record in the 400-meter relay in 1997 with Playa del Rey St. Bernard High.

Granddaughter Joelle Trepagnier sits nearby, chewing absentmindedly on a straw in a cup of soda.

“This, it’s just history. All this is history. And now she’s coming up,” Edmonson said, turning his attention from the walls to 15-year-old Trepagnier. “I’m going to sit back and watch her run, and watch her history.”


Daughter of Malika and former USC basketball star Jeff Trepagnier, she is the third generation of Edmonson track stars, a precocious Culver City sophomore who won the 400 at the Arcadia Invitational on April 9.

“The way she’s running now,” Edmonson says, “her whole life’s in front of her.”

In the kitchen, a small table in the corner displays Trepagnier’s youth trophies. Roughly 50 medals hang from hooks on the walls.

While quite a lot, it’s not enough.

“I’m trying,” Trepagnier said, lost in visions of the living-room trophy case, “to get like that.”

She has grown up in this track White House, never really understanding what the slew of medals meant. Now she does. Last year she typed her mother’s name into Athletic.net, studying her times at every age.


Trepagnier wants to obliterate them.

“I’m about to get faster than her,” Trepagnier said of her mother. “Like, I have to.’”

That has started with the new mind shaping Culver City girls’ track: coach Lashinda Demus, an Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 400 hurdles and an Inglewood native. Demus demands greatness, piercing ears with her whistle, running workouts so vigorous that athletes wind up face down on the track in exhaustion. One year with her has brought Trepagnier plenty of pain, and also dropped two seconds off her 400 time.

“I see that she wants to be the one,” Demus said of Trepagnier. “And you have to have that in there if you want to go far … I think she has that.”


Sometimes she wants it too much. Last year at the CIF state meet, Trepagnier was so nervous that she threw up seven times while walking from the staging area to the starting blocks.

“It was bad,” Trepagnier said with a laugh. “It was so bad.”

She hasn’t thrown up this year. She has won most of her races. The confidence is flowing, all the way into the Southern Section finals next weekend, where Trepagnier will be a favorite in Division II.

By the time Trepagnier finishes high school — and, she's hoping, heads to USC, just like her mom and aunt — she wants to have cut her time to a low 52-second mark in the 400 and a low 23 in the 200.


She pauses, looking across the shimmering living room at her mother.

“What was your 200 time in high school?” she asks.

“My fastest? A 23.47,” Malika responds.

And Trepagnier nods, her mother and grandfather laughing.

“Mmm-kay,” she finishes.

A cheeky smile spreads across the 15-year-old’s face, but her eyes are steel. The table in the dining room is too small, and the shelves don’t have enough space.

She wants more.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.