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Jordan Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan St. Anthony Track & Field Wilson

PREVIEW: Long Beach Boys’ Track and Field

The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.

The562’s coverage of cross country and track and field is sponsored by Bryson Financial.

With the three top-ranked programs in the CIF Southern Section’s top division as well as in the state, the Long Beach boys’ track and field world is pointed towards an exciting postseason.

Already this year fans have gotten to see many of the state and country’s top athletes competing.

Long Beach Poly is the top-ranked team in the city, section and state on the boys’ side, and the 26-time defending Moore League champs have the inside track to claim this year’s league title by themselves after sharing it with Wilson and Jordan last season.

In the sprints, the Jackrabbits will be led by one of the fastest freshmen in America as Malachi Dawson has burst onto the scene running 10.73 in the 100 and 21.88 in the 200 already. Cal signee Javon Hampton will jump for Poly as well as run the 100 and the 4×100, with Jadyn Robinson, Alijah Stokes, Caliph Johnson, and freshman Noah Smith adding depth in the sprints as well.

Poly has one of the more exciting talents in the state in junior Xai Ricks, who is a master of all trades in the middle distances and could compete in the 200, 400, or 800 for the Jackrabbits this postseason, in addition to relay work. Ricks is currently tops in the state in the 800 (1:49.19) and third in the 400 (47.74), but could end up in the 200 in the postseason just to manage workload, especially with a new 4×800 relay at the CIF State meet.

Lamarr Kirk Jr. and Cameron Rhone give Poly great options in the 800 and 1600, with cross country standouts Mason Lindsey and Luke Larson likely to run the 3200, and Micah Anderson running both hurdles.

Jadyn Robinson and Kairi Shepherd will join Hampton in the jumps, with Jorden and Jalen Ransom in the throws, Cooper Hunt and Benjamin Montooth in the pole vault, and Jam Velez-Cadena in the high jump.

At Wilson, the Bruins are once again looking like a force in the 4×400 where they’re currently the state leaders after running a 3:15.04 with the quartet of Diego Alvarado, JaeRon Harris, Marcell Francis-Mitchell, and JT Kraemer. That same group with Isaac Lewis subbed in for Harris is also the state-leader in the 4×800, which will be a scoring event at the CIF State meet this year.

Lewis remains one of the most intriguing athletes in the state as he was a standout in both the 400 and the 300 hurdles last year, and has the strength and versatility to run all the middle distances. Andrew Johnson and Max Barbee are the Bruins’ top sprinters, and they have plenty of depth in the 400 and 800 ranks as the relay performances show. Gus Hollister, Kyle Holland, and Eli Minkoff are pacing the Bruins in the distances so far. The Bruins’ field program isn’t as full, which Nelson said was a part of why Poly was able to come out on top in the two schools’ dual meet last week.

At Jordan, coach Sharaud Moore built his Panthers into a CIF-SS Division 2 champion last year, and he has a bevvy of talent back to help his program make the Division 1 jump this year. Moore said he was honored to have his squad ranked No. 3 in the State.

“I was very grateful when I saw that, it’s a testament to the work we do in Long Beach as a whole,” he said. “We have such giants with Poly and Wilson, these schools are internationally known. To have Jordan there with them, they’re saying the best of everything comes out of Long Beach. It’s a new challenge and one I’ll accept any day of the week to be respected in our sport–but we also aren’t going to let the rankings get to us or affect our mentality, they ultimately mean nothing and I talked about it once with our team and moved on.”

The Panthers return junior Jordan Washington, one of the fastest sprinters in the state and already a known name in the city. They also return Darryl Stevens in the 300 hurdles and the 200, as well as Jacob Hernandez in the 110 hurdles.

“That gives us some familiarity with kids who’ve won and have a championship mentality,” said Moore. The Panthers also return Chris Tafunga, who has a shot at the throws double, and Jerman Simms, who will contend for all three jumps titles at league finals.

They’ve added freshman Tre’Jon Spears in the 200 and 400, and freshman Jermar Andrews in the long and triple jump.

Millikan is bolstered this year by a distance program on the rise, led by junior Jason Parra, currently among the best in the state in the 3200 with an 8:58 mark. The Rams don’t have any boys’ runners in the top 10 in the league at distances under 1600, but do have four of the top 10 milers and seven of the top 10 two-milers, with Jack Brown, Aiden Ransom, Joaquin Ocampo, and Jacob Fujimoto all putting up good times this year. The Rams also have a discus contender in Duke Hemsley.At St. Anthony, the Saints have broken the school record in the 4×100 as Alex Cobb, Jonathan Ferguson, Dre Johnson, and Remy Doering went 42.88 at the Trabuco Hills Invite last weekend.

Long Beach High School Track and Field Preview
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.