Jordan Coleman shines for Granada Hills in winning effort at Mt. SAC Relays

Granada Hills sprinter Jordan Coleman reaches back to receive the baton from teammate Justin Hart.
Granada Hills sprinter Jordan Coleman reaches back to receive the baton from teammate Justin Hart to begin the second leg of the boys' 4x100-meter relay at the Mt. SAC Relays on Saturday. The Highlanders won the race. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Good things come to those who wait.

That motto has held true this track season for Granada Hills sprinter Jordan Coleman. In terms of limelight, the senior took a back seat last season to teammate Dijon Stanley, who led the Highlanders to a City Section title in football and a state title in the boys' 400 meters before heading to the University of Utah.

This spring the spotlight has shifted to Coleman, and his blazing second leg helped Granada Hills take first in the 4x100 relay in 40.85 seconds Saturday in the 64th edition of the Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut. Long Beach Poly was second in 41.18.

Sore legs after the indoor season led to Coleman opting out of the Arcadia Invitational this month. He finally made his outdoor debut in a dual meet last week against league rival El Camino Real and teamed with Justin Hart, Kanye Martin and Timothy Wyatt to post a 40.29 — the fastest 4x100 relay time in the state this year and the fifth-fastest high school time in state history. The foursome’s latest effort validated them as state contenders.

“All things considered it was pretty smooth; it was great to show we’re still here and we can win against fast competition,” added Coleman, who has committed to Harvard.

Read more: Column: Jordan Coleman on pace to take his spot among elite sprinters

Granada Hills set a City Section record last season with Coleman running the first leg.

“I don’t really have a preference but we discussed it with our coach and decided my running the second leg is best this year," he said. "I like the turns, I’ve run them my whole career and I’m used to it, but second is new and exciting getting to run straight the whole way.”

After going all-out in the relay, Coleman settled for third in the 100 meters with a 10.59 — an improvement on the 10.88 he posted April 11, but 16 hundredths off his wind-aided 10.43 a year ago at Mt. SAC.

The race was a redemption of sorts for Bishop Alemany freshman Demare Dezeurn, who had not run in the 100 since taking third in a wind-aided 10.43 at Arcadia.

Poly's Benjamin Harris, who won the 100 at Arcadia, did not enter Saturday’s race, and Dezeurn won in a wind-legal 10.47. Brandon Arrington of Mount Miguel, who was fourth at Arcadia, was second in 10.49.

“I worked hard in practice on getting out of the blocks, then driving through the finish,” said Dezeurn, who ran the 60 meters in 6.72 — the top national mark for a ninth-grader — at the California Winter Championships in February. “I had a way better start today, I was more in control of my body and I came here ready to win and show I’m here to stay. This wasn’t about time, it was about getting respect and the win.”

Bishop Alemany freshman Demare Dezeurn displays his medal.
Bishop Alemany freshman Demare Dezeurn displays his medal after winning the boys' 100 meters in 10.47 seconds at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 20, 2024. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

The Calabasas foursome of Lahela Ray, Paige Porter, Zoe Ray and Marley Scoggins won the girls' 4x100 in 46.02, beating Poly (46.12) and defending City champion Carson (46.36).

“Getting to the finish line first is all that matters,” said Scoggins, who was slightly behind at the start of her anchor leg. “I believe [Poly] had a better handoff and were ahead of us, but I believe in myself."

The pressure was on Aja Johnson in the final stages of the girls' discus, but the Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior rose to the occasion with a final throw of 152 feet 10 inches, which earned her the top spot over Elisabeth Driscoll of Canyon Crest Academy (144-02).

“I was nervous after the foul on the throw before so I was telling myself to chill out before the last one,” said Johnson, who won at Arcadia with a throw of 151 feet after achieving her best mark (154) at state last year. “Today I was focusing on my technique and fixing my release. This is the second-best I’ve ever thrown and it’s my seasonal best.”

Earlier, Johnson won the shotput with a heave of 44-10¾.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior Aja Johnson competes in the discus at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior Aja Johnson competes in the discus at the Mt. SAC Relays on Saturday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“I was confident I could win both,” said Johnson, who has competed in shotput since she was 9 and discus since 11. “I’m better at shot and prefer it, but I can’t say one is harder than the other; it depends on the day. It takes a good amount of energy to do both, especially mentally, because there’s a lot of waiting. I’m glad I won the shot today because I wasn’t happy with fourth at Arcadia.”

Johnson hopes to sweep the events at the state finals. Her goal for the shot put is 47 or 48 feet — her personal record of 46-10 was achieved at the CIF Masters Meet last year — and she is aiming for 160 feet in discus.

Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks continued to raise the bar in high jump. After clearing 6 feet 9 inches to secure first place at Arcadia, he cleared 6-10 to win with ease Saturday.

“This is a bigger stage than Arcadia,” said Banks, who trains every Sunday and twice during the week after taking up the sport last year. “It’s nerve-wracking getting up to that [last] height. My second attempt was my best. ... I barely tapped the bar. There’s lots of freedom. Everyone jumps a different way. I have confidence I can win state and my goal is 7-1½.”

Although the sprint events highlighted Saturday’s schedule, the distance runners captured the headlines Friday, particularly in the mile.

Ventura junior Sadie Engelhardt shattered her second meet record in three weeks, clocking a personal-best 4 minutes 31.72 seconds to better last year’s 4:38.53 and set a National Federation of State High Schools Assn. record.

Immediately following Engelhardt’s historic performance, Dana Hills junior Evan Noonan won the boys’ 1,600 in a state-leading 4:06.89.

Sadie Engelhardt reaches the finish line after running a 1,600-meter split of 4:33.95.
Sadie Engelhardt reaches the finish line after running a 1,600-meter split of 4:33.95 that helped Ventura set the national outdoor record at the Mt. SAC Relays. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Engelhardt returned to Hilmer Lodge to make more history Saturday night when she anchored Ventura's distance medley relay, which was bidding to topple the national outdoor record of 11:22.23 set by Harvard-Westlake in 2011.

Melanie True ran the opening 1,200, Valentina Fakrogha covered the 400 leg and Aelo Curtis ran the 800 before passing the baton to Engelhardt for a duel with reigning state 3,200 champion Rylee Blade of Corona Santiago. The drama grew with each stride as Engelhardt passed her rival on a blazing 67-second first lap en route to completing her four laps in 4:33.95 — good enough to make Ventura the new national record holder at 11:21.85.

“At first I had no idea how close we were, I was just trying to catch Rylee,” said Engelhardt, who has committed to North Carolina State. “Then on the last lap when I heard what we needed, I was thinking ‘We got this!”

Fakrogha added, “I love running with them and it was a great time to PR."

Inspired by the girls’ performance, Ventura’s boys won the distance medley relay in 9:59.51 thanks to a strong closing 1,600 by senior Anthony Fasthorse, who clocked 4:07.95.

Read more: Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt fends off challenges to break Arcadia Invitational record

La Jolla won the girls' 1,600 sprint medley relay in a California-leading 3:59.78, and Riverside Poly took first in the the boys' race in 3:33.97.

Clovis (3:17.86) beat Long Beach Poly by one second to win the boys' 4x400 relay after the Jackrabbits won the girls' race in 3:49.66.

Carson junior Jerald Martin Evangelista impressed in the long jump with a winning mark of 23-7¾, the sixth-best leap in the state this season.

Hagop Marmarian of Pasadena Marshall won the boys' shotput with a throw of 60-10.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.