After months of waiting in the wings, James Redd of Fontana High put in his claim as the state's best 400-meter runner Friday with an impressive victory during the opening day of the two-day State high school track and field meet.
Before a crowd of 7,680 at Cerritos College, Redd--the top Southern Section quarter miler--won his heat in 47.99 seconds. He qualified for today's finals, which will begin with field events at 3 p.m. and running at 4.
Redd has improved his times all season after being left out of the invitational 400 meters in April's Arcadia meet. He has used that as motivation in his quest for a state title.
Richard Dupree of San Jose Mt. Pleasant had the best qualifying time in 47.68, followed by Derek Shephard of San Francisco Lincoln's 47.92, but Redd is ready for today's showdown.
"I haven't run against any of those guys all year, but I should have at Arcadia," said Redd, who also won his 200-meter heat in 21.55. "I don't think I was given the respect I should have been given then. Tomorrow, I will get my turn."
Demond Smith of Hawthorne ran to impressive victories in his heats in the 110-meter high and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in times of 14.32 and 37.97, respectively.
Smith, who also ran on Hawthorne's qualifying 400-meter relay team, will face Charlie Davidson, who had the top time in the 110 hurdles in 14.00, and Greg Muniz of Irvine Woodbridge, who had the best mark in the 300 intermediates in 37.69.
Gentry Bradley of Downey Pius X, the Southern Section's top sprinter, was the top qualifier in the 100 meters in 10.51. Bradley, who also qualified in the 200, will be challenged in the finals by Riley Washington of San Diego Southwest and Anthony Volson of Merced.
In the girls' competition, Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks--the two-time State 100 and 200 meters champion and national record-holder in both events--had a good day individually, but saw her relay teams falter.
As expected, Jones blew away her competition in the sprints in 11.24 and 22.71 seconds in the 100 and 200 meters respectively, but Thousand Oaks failed to qualify in the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.