About a month before the 2019 high school track and field season started, someone pointed out to Long Beach Poly coach Crystal Irving that her boys and girls teams both projected to do quite well this year, better than they’ve done since a magical 2011 year that saw both programs win state championships.
Irving smiled and made a shhhh noise.
“Don’t tell anybody,” she said.
It’s safe to say that at this point, the secret is out. Between the “Trackrabbits” and a Wilson program that’s been on the rise, there’s no doubt that this year, Long Beach runs California. Of the 25 events listed at athletic.net, Poly and Wilson’s boys’ currently hold state leading marks in seven of them, while the girls hold another three. That means that of the 1,500+ high schools in the state, two public schools in Long Beach currently hold 10 state-leading marks out of 50 events. What’s more, the Long Beach kids have 29 marks this year that are Top 10 in the state in their events.
It’s worth pointing out that many of the city’s best athletes haven’t even had a chance to compete in their best events yet. Wilson junior Rachel Glenn is the state’s defending high jump champion and hasn’t yet competed in the HJ, for example.
For decades, Long Beach football, basketball, and baseball teams dominated California at the Division 1 level, a golden era that has largely passed. Track and field is the last sport where the Moore League looks to run the show in a dominant way, and it’s understandable that coaches at both Poly and Wilson have been walking around with their chests puffed out this year.
Between the two programs, there are more than 550 athletes competing–and they’re good, too. There won’t be a better league meet anywhere in California than Poly and Wilson’s dual meet at Poly on April 10, and there won’t be a more talented league finals meet than the Moore League Finals at Wilson on April 18. After that? It sure looks like there will be plenty of local kids running deep into the postseason.
“It’s going to be a Long Beach party at State this year,” said Wilson coach Neil Nelson.
Rams coach Jerry Naulls is excited about the upcoming year for Millikan, including a pair of throwers expected to be among the city’s best. Alaina English and Imhotep Pryor are the odds-on favorites for the league crown before the year begins.
The Rams also have talented returning jumpers in Darline Schroeder and Alan Tabales, as well as middle distance and distance runners Hazel McIntosh and Jasper Loverude.
Sharaud Moore has re-established the Jordan track and field program, but he’ll be without the Panthers’ biggest success story from last year, as CIF-SS and Masters Finalist A’Lena Chaney transferred to Serra. The team will still boast talented jumpers on the boys’ side in Andrew Gallardo and Jorden Augustus.
“We’re looking for them to score big for us in league and CIF,” said Moore.
Moore is also excited about the upcoming season for sprinters and hurdlers Terriana Moore, Tia Spears, and Kimani Brown on the girls’ side.
Jaguars coaches Jesse Estrella and Scoey Peters are hoping the rising athletics tide on the Wetside will lift their track and field program as well.
“As a program we have a lot of newcomers on the team in all events,” said Estrella. “This means a lot of PR’s are ahead of us and also a lot of room for improvement. We are very excited for what the upcoming season will bring about.”
Angel Mendoza and Daniel Diaz will lead a distance squad that features 16 new runners and no returners, while Jose Lopez and Nicolas Marino will anchor a strong throws program; both medaled at league finals last year.
Nicole Davis and Alexis Williams are the top girls’ sprinters, while Omar Andrews, Jhamilion LaCour, and Aaron Williams lead the boys’ sprints.
Compton girls’ basketball coach Derrick Anderson is hoping to lead the same revolution on the track that he did on the hardcourt, where his team won a playoff game this year. The Compton girls’ team is led by Armiyah Johnson, a senior who ran 12.2 in the 100 last year and 25.5 in the 200. Anderson said Johnson has been working hard and he has high hopes for her.
“She’s going sub-12 seconds this year,” he said.
On the boys’ side, football star Jaheim Hunt is back in the sprints having made CIF-SS prelims last year in the 100 after a 10.8 at league finals.