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Long Beach Poly Track & Field

CIF State Track: Long Beach Poly Caps Day With 4×4 Gold

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The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.

It wasn’t the day that Long Beach Poly was hoping for, but the Jackrabbits still came up gold thanks to a state title in the boys’ 4×400 to close the evening at the CIF State Track & Field Finals in Clovis.

The Jackrabbits came up a few points shy of contending for the boys’ team title, piling up 28 points to finish fourth–just eight points back of state champion Granada Hills and just five points shy of second place. But while they may not have left Clovis with another trophy to add to the display case, they did still depart with golden memories thanks to a thrilling 4×400 state title by the quartet of Noah Smith, Malachi Dawson, Caliph Johnson, and Xai Ricks, who ran a 3:12.99 for their best time of the season.

“It was great, we knew we had to do whatever it took to come out here and finish strong, it was great,” said Ricks, the standout junior who had a busy day on the oval for the Jackrabbits.

Ricks ran on Poly’s 4×100 to start the day with Javon Hampton, Dawson, and Johnson, finishing 4th in 41.22. He also ran on Poly’s 4×800 with Lamarr Kirk Jr., Cameron Rhone, and Noah Addison, finishing fourth in 7:40.57. Ricks became the first boy in California history to compete in three relays at the CIF State meet, running in all three for Poly.

But for all the points the Jackrabbits piled up, the 4×400 was the lone gold–made even more impressive by the fact that it’s a quartet of underclassmen with Dawson and Smith both freshman, and Johnson just a sophomore.

“We’ve got the whole team coming back, we’ve got a lot of really good young talent, the future is bright,” said Ricks.

The other boy scoring points for the Jackrabbits was senior Gabe Tyler, who competed in four para-ambulatory events, finishing fourth in the 100, fifth in the shot put, and sixth in the 200 and 400.

On the girls’ side, Poly also featured several talented youngsters who will be back to score big points next season.

Sophomore Jill Wetteland had a fifth-place finish in the high jump, clearing 5-4 and 5-6 on her first attempt but failing to clear 5-7. It’s been a remarkable two-year journey in the sport for Wetteland, who was a “volleyball first” two sport athlete that burst onto the scene last year as a freshman, winning the CIF-SS title in the HJ.

Her fifth-place finish this year sets her up for a strong junior and senior season as she focuses more on track and field; only one returning athlete finished above her at the State meet, a junior. Wetteland was the youngest competitor in the Finals Saturday as the only sophomore to compete.

The Jackrabbits also got a third-place finish from junior shot putter Mai Ricks, who threw a 42-08.25. The Poly girls’ 4×100 finished in eighth to start the day.

Long Beach Poly (11 entries)

Girls’ 4×100, 8th, 47.39 (Portley, Reed, Smith, Hunter)

Boys’ 4×100, 4th, 41.22 (Hampton, Dawson, Ricks, Johnson)

Boys’ 400, Xai Ricks, 2nd, 46.06

Boys’ 4×800, 4th, 7:40.57 (Addison, Rhone, Kirk Jr., Ricks)

Boys’ 4×400, 1st, 3:12.99 (Smith, Dawson, Johnson, Ricks)

Girls’ High Jump, Jillene Wetteland, 5th, 5-6

Girls’ Shot Put, Mai Ricks, 3rd, 42-08.25

Boys’ 100 Ambulatory, Gabe Tyler, 4th, 14.80

Boys’ 200 Ambulatory, Gabe Tyler, 6th, 32.13

Boys’ 400 Ambulatory, Gabe Tyler, 6th, 1:18.07

Boys’ Shot Put, Gabe Tyler, 5th, 22-5.76

VIDEO: CIF State Track & Field Championships
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.