Going into the weekend, Long Beach Poly was hoping to compete for a pair of team state championships. Things didn’t break the Jackrabbits’ way, but they did experience redemption and rejuvenation with a third-place finish for their girls’ team, and a fourth-place finish for their boys’ team.
The night ended on a high note with Poly’s girls’ 4×400 winning the state title in a time of 3:46.23 with Quwshaya Peters, Saundria Martin, Samina Haddad, and Kenya Payne bringing it home.
“I about lost it,” said Poly coach Crystal Irving. “That’s why my voice is gone. It was a rollercoaster Friday and Saturday for us, and to see our kids come out and rally together and execute was beautiful.”
An injury to DeAngelo Chester in Friday’s prelims saw the senior go down hard with a bad hamstring pull, forcing Poly to scramble on the relays Saturday and to pull together as a team. The theme of Saturday was redemption. Everett Steward had been frustrated with the way his sophomore season ended at league finals, and ended up placing sixth in the 400 at State Finals with a 47.64.
“I worked really hard to make sure this year was better than last year,” said Steward, who also anchored Poly’s boys’ 4×400, which finished second with a time of 3:17.68.
Liam Anderson is another athlete who was disappointed last year, but the senior made it to state in both hurdles and finished 7th in the 110 hurdles at 14.34.
Nobody had a bigger emotional arc than Payne, the USC signee and younger sister of Poly and LSU All-American Kymber Payne. Kenya false started in the 300 hurdles at the CIF-SS Finals, ending her individual high school career.
“I cried for two days straight,” she said. “I had to remind myself I still had the 4×400 with my team.”
Payne ran anchor on that state championship-winning relay on Saturday night, and proceeded to celebrate with her team, and then spend two minutes heaving into a trash can.
“I threw up a lot,” she said. “I can finally let it all out. I didn’t have any emotions today, I just shut it down–I didn’t want to be nervous, so I just had to act like I didn’t care about this being my last meet with Poly.”
In addition to Payne’s anchor, Poly got a great 4×400 leg from Saundria Martin, who was the school’s top athlete Saturday, finishing top five in the 100 and 200, as well as running on both relays. Martin is another athlete who was making up for lost time after missing the postseason last year with injuries.
“It means a lot, it really hurt me not being here to help my team last year,” she said. “We haven’t had a 4×400 at this level for many years–we knew we could do it this year.”
Kenyon Reed had a successful first season of track, making the State finals in both sprints. The other standout for Poly was Will Frankenfeld, who finished 14th in the 3200 to cap an excellent senior season.
The good new for Poly is the future is bright–the Jackrabbits relied on four freshmen on their relays this year with Knox, Haddad, Lauren Reed, Zanae Woods, and Kennedy Butler all turning in nice performances. Steward will return along with Jaelen Johnson, Octavian Hall, Destiny Okoh, and a host of other young talent.
“We’re excited about the future at Long Beach Poly,” said Irving.
Girls’ 4×100: Long Beach Poly 3rd, 47.25 (Lauren Reed, Saundria Martin, Queen Okoh, Jaelyn Predium)
Boys’ 4×100: Long Beach Poly 3rd, 41.56 (Jaelen Knox, Kenyon Reed, Anthony Johnson, Keon Markham)
Boys’ 110 Hurdles: Liam Anderson (Long Beach Poly, 7th, 14.34)
Boys’ 400: Everett Steward (Long Beach Poly, 6th, 47.79)
Girls’ 100: Saundria Martin (Long Beach Poly, 5th, 11.76)
Boys’ 100: Kenyon Reed (Long Beach Poly, 9th, 10.73)
Girls’ 200: Saundria Martin (Long Beach Poly, 4th, 23.94)
Boys’ 200: Kenyon Reed (Long Beach Poly, 8th, 21.62)
Boys’ 3200: William Frankenfeld (Long Beach Poly, 14th, 9:17.04)
Girls’ 4×400: Long Beach Poly (1st, 3:46.23; Quwshaya Peters, Saundria Martin, Samina Haddad, Kenya Payne), Wilson (4th, 3:49.84, Diona Griffith, Maya Bryson, Rachel Glenn, Tyler Nettles)
Boys’ 4×400: Long Beach Poly (2nd, 3:17.68; Jaelen Johnson, Liam Anderson, Jaelen Knox, Everett Steward), Wilson (3rd, 3:18.02; Armando Bryson, Jordan Weimer, Andrew Richards, Seaver Cardoza)