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

Ventura's Sadie Englehardt runs in the girls' mile at the Arcadia Invitational on April 6, 2024.
Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt runs at the head of the field during the girls' mile at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday night. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Sadie Engelhardt found herself in an unfamiliar position — second — with one lap to go in the one-mile race Saturday night at the 56th Arcadia Invitational.

The defending champion had led from the start but was passed by fellow junior Jane Hedengren of Provo (Utah) Timpview as they entered the final 400 meters. However, the Ventura standout would not disappoint her fans and retook the lead before the two reached the backstretch.

Engelhardt staved off several challenges from Hedengren over the last 200 meters to win for the third straight year in 4 minutes 34.31 seconds, breaking the meet record of 4:35.16 she set as a freshman in 2022. The fleet-footed effort established a state record and was the third-fastest girls' mile in high school history.

Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt crosses the finish line and wins the girls' mile at the Arcadia Invitational.
Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt wins the girls' mile at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“I was waiting for her to make a move — I even slowed down to let her catch me so I’d have the opportunity to draft a little bit — but I didn’t expect that,” Engelhardt said. “I was a little nervous with 200 to go, but I felt strong and had a good margin at the end.”

Hedengren finished second for the second straight year in 4:37.17.

“I’ve worked on my cadence and my leg speed since last year and it was definitely a good switch,” added Engelhardt, who won in 4:36.26 as a sophomore. “The energy is incredible. I can definitely feel the home-state advantage. The atmosphere here is great!”

Long Beach Poly has a long and storied history of success in track and field, and Benjamin Harris added to it by winning the boys' 100-meter dash in a personal record.

The Jackrabbits freshman clocked a wind-aided 10.38 seconds to beat a loaded field that included Bishop Alemany’s Demare Dezeurn, who ran the 60 meters in 6.72 — the national record for a ninth-grader — in February at the California Winter Championships. In third at the halfway point, Harris turned on the jets to edge senior Dominick Corley of Spokane (Wash.) Mead by one-hundredth of a second. Dezeurn was third in 10.43.

“Once I got out of the blocks I saw I was behind and I had to switch to another gear,” said Harris, who let out a big scream when he won. “I took the lead around the 60- or 70-meter mark and I knew I had it. This is a PR [personal record] for me. I’m proud to represent Poly and showcase my ability but I’m going to stay humble and keep working to be even faster.”

Long Beach Poly's Benjamin Harris flexes after winning the boys' 100 meters at the Arcadia Invitational.
Long Beach Poly's Benjamin Harris flexes after winning the boys' 100 meters in 10.38 seconds at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Harris is off to a blazing start in his prep career and may own all of his school’s sprinting records by the time he graduates. In early March, he bolted to a wind-aided 10.44 seconds in the 100 at the Redondo Nike Festival — the fastest time ever by a freshman in California.

Saturday in the 200, Dezeurn ran against another freshman speedster, Cathedral’s Roosevelt Reuben, but Brandon Arrington of Spring Valley Mount Miguel took first in a blazing 20.76. Dezeurn was fifth in 21.51 and Reuben seventh in 21.99.

Reuben ended the meet on a high note, running the anchor leg on the Phantoms’ winning 4x400 relay, which clocked 3:16.28.

Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks won the boys’ high jump, clearing 6 feet 9 inches, while Brandon Gorski of Mater Dei tied for second at 6-7. Banks had a clean sheet on his way to the title, clearing each height on his first attempt. He nearly succeeded on his third attempt at 6-11, which would have bettered his personal record of 6-10¼ at the Redondo Nike Festival in March.

Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks clears the bar to win the boys' high jump.
Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks clears the bar at 6 feet 9 inches to win the boys' high jump at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“It's nice to have the freedom to go for [the record] when you’ve already won, but actually I like the competition — it keeps me pumped,” said Banks, who played on the Patriots’ basketball team in the winter and jumped 6-6 to tie for fifth at the state meet last spring.

“I came here confident,” Banks said. “I didn’t start jumping until late last year. It’s all mental. Timing is key and being mentally prepared.”

Calabasas seniors Lahela Ray, Arielle McKenzie, Paige Porter and Zoe Ray won the girls’ 4x400 relay in 3:46.30.

San Clemente (10:13.20), Mira Costa (10:13.78) and Great Oak (10:15.05) swept the top three spots in the boys’ distance medley relay, a distance of 4,000 meters.

Rancho Cucamonga’s boys won the 4x100 relay in 41.32. Keelan Wright of Chaparral won the girls’ 100 in 11.54 and Holly Barker from Trabuco Hills was second in the girls’ 3,200 meters in 10:02.52.

Vista Murrieta senior Alyssa Alumbres won the girls’ triple jump with a mark of 39-9¾. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior Aja Johnson won the discus with a throw of 151-7 and Edison senior Alexa Sheldon won the shot put at 44-3½.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.