Ariana Washington, Kymber Payne
Long Beach Poly Track & Field Wilson

Four Long Beach Runners Make NCAA Track Finals

Four Long Beach athletes made it to Friday and Saturday’s NCAA Track Finals after a thrilling two days of prelims action that included a new Long Beach State 4×100 record.

On Wednesday, Wilson alum Mar’yea Harris advanced in the 400 and he will compete in the Finals on Friday at 6:32 p.m. Harris will also anchor the Iowa 4×400 relay that ends the meet at 7:51 p.m. It’s been an historic year for him as he’s rewritten the school records in the quarter mile.

Speaking of re-writing school records, the Long Beach State 4×100 quartet of Courtne’ Davis, Ashleigh Chambers, Azaria Hill and Madison Golden didn’t advance out of Thursday’s preliminary round, finishing seventh in their heat—but they did shatter their own school record with a 44.59, almost a third of a second faster than their previous record.

Chambers, a Wilson alum, is the only athlete who will graduate from the quartet.

“We just wanted to keep bettering ourselves,” she said. “So when we set the school record it was just like let’s do it again.”

LBSU sprints coach LaTanya Sheffield was bursting with pride for her group.

“It means that we belong here,” she said. “We’ve earned a lane, and we did something with the opportunity.”

Also ending their seasons in prelims were Long Beach State long jumper Jason Smith and Saladin Nasser, who finished 18thand 20th, earning honorable mention All-American honors.

Long Beach Poly fans likely remember the record-setting teams that featured Ariana Washington and Kymber Payne. Now with Oregon and LSU, the duo are competing in their last college meet ever, and are poised to go out with a bang. Both compete on their schools’ relays, and both qualified in an individual event as well, with Washington making the finals as the third-seeded 100 sprinter and Payne making it as the second-seeded 400 meter hurdler.

In an interesting twist, Oregon and LSU are the two teams with the most entries into Saturday’s women’s finals, leaving open the possibility that they could end up battling for the NCAA trophy. In addition to Washington, LB native Lauren Rain Williams is a member of Oregon’s 4×100 relay team and will compete on Saturday. Williams and Washington did not advance in the 200.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.