High school track and field season begins in earnest in Long Beach this week, as the Moore League schedule opens on Wednesday with the always-anticipated dual meet between Long Beach Poly and Wilson, at the Bruins’ stadium. Perhaps no sport had more star athletes’ seasons cut short last year than track and field, making 2021’s return to competition even more exciting.
Long Beach Poly
The Jackrabbits boys’ team is seeking a 22nd consecutive Moore League title, while the girls are hoping to edge Wilson to retake the throne. The Jackrabbit girls are the reigning CIF-SS champs dating back to the 2019 finals.
On the girls’ side, Poly is led by senior Jade McDonald, an Iowa signee who’s among the best in California in both jumps as well as the 100 hurdles.
“Her goal is to do all three events, and she’s got the chance to do something special,” said Poly coach Crystal Irving.
The Jackrabbits are absolutely packed with quality jumpers, with Lauren Reed, Anayah Wyche, Kennedy Butler, Zharia Taylor and Alyssa Perkins all capable of putting up CIF marks alongside McDonald. The future is bright for the Poly girls, with McDonald and hurdler Yael Moore two of the only seniors. Reed, Wyche, Taylor, Butler and Perkins are all juniors.
Poly has several promising 9th and 10th graders including Taylor Johnson, a sprinter who set the LBUSD All-City middle school record in the 100 meter last year, as well as freshman Morgan King, a sprinter/jumper. Sophomore Kennadi Reed adds to the depth as a jumper and sprinter as well.
The Jackrabbits have several talented distance runners they’ll slot in to either the mile or two mile, and the Jackrabbits also have a state-level thrower in Destiny Okoh, who could make it in both the shot put and discus–provided that a state meet is allowed to happen, of course.
“We have a good mixture to be a championship-caliber team,” said irving. “We don’t know if we will have that opportunity yet, but we’ll keep working.”
On the boys’ side, Poly isn’t as deep but does feature several talented seniors including Jalen Johnson, Donovan Williams, Caleb Dunomes, Malik Harness, Anthony Robinson, and Kamren Blanton. Miguel Orozco is a jumper who’s scored at CIF, and junior Keylen Dickens will make noise in the hurdles.
Other key underclassmen include Jalen Knox, who will contend in the 400 and the 100. Irving says she’s expecting to get some football players now that their season is done.
Neil Nelson’s Wilson team is packed with talent as well, and features several athletes who’ve posted top 10 marks in the state so far this young season. Leading the way on the girls’ side are seniors Maya Bryson (sprints, hurdles) and Tyler Nettles (jumps, hurdles). The Bruins look to excel in the 400, where sophomores Aujane Luckey and Sadia Green are No. 2 and No. 4 in the state right now. Junior Trinity Moseby is an experienced sprinter and hurdler and the team features a pair of talented freshmen sprinters in Xcaret Tirado and Tarynn Maroney.
Nelson is hoping the girls can make some noise–they’re the defending Moore League champs having won their first league crown since 2009 in 2019. The Bruins had the biggest heartbreak of the suspended 2020 season with star jumper and hurdler Rachel Glenn not getting her senior season. Glenn is now a high jump star at the NCAA level for South Carolina.
On the boys’ side, senior Phillip Jefferson looks like he might be the breakout star of the season, currently owning the No. 2 time in the state in the 400 and the No. 5 time in the half mile. Other than Jefferson and Michael Bruner in the sprints, the Bruins boys’ team is young. Juniors Leroy Crook (sprints), Saadite Green (sprints) and Nico Colchico (middle distance) will be backed up by sophomores Isaac Lewis and Marcel Mitchell-Francis as a glimpse of the Bruins’ future.
The Rams feature one of their best athletes in a long time in Samarra Monrroy, who’s a junior this year coming off a very promising freshman campaign that saw her win the CIF-SS Division 1 title in the 400 and finish second in the state in that event. Monrroy hasn’t raced yet this year but is likely to be one of California’s best in the 200 and 400.
Mike Wixted’s Lakewood team is improving, and features a legitimate state-level talent in Cherish Washington-Logan, who is currently the school’s record-holder in the discus. She’s currently No. 3 in the state in that event, and No. 7 in the shot put.
Nina Draffen is the top runner on the girls’ side while the boy’s side will feature Adam Widmann, Armando Sandoval, Fabian Barales-Nunez, and Sean Goltra.
Sharaud Moore gained a key piece as he continues to built the program at Jordan–the Panthers will boast freshman Jordan Washington, who set the LBUSD All-City middle school record in the 100 last year.
Head coach Ericka Brooks has a small group at St. Anthony, but they are mighty. Asjah Atkinson is a Cal signee and the state favorite in the 100 hurdles with the state-leading time, and teammate London Lee could end up winning the triple jump, which she currently leads in California.