Nakiya Johnson of Chino Hills Ayala High signed a letter of intent with Texas on Tuesday and then made a sizzling season debut in the girls' 400 meters Saturday at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays.
Johnson, who ran a career best of 52.09 seconds to finish second in the 400 in the World Junior Championships in Annecy, France, last year, competed in the 200 and 800 earlier this season in order to improve her speed and strength for the 400.
That racing schedule seemed to pay dividends Saturday as Johnson pulled away from sophomore Laloni Anderson of Westchester in the final straightaway to clock 53.45, the fastest outdoor high school time in the nation this year.
"We haven't done a lot of speed work yet so I'm really happy," said Johnson, who ranks 10th on the all-time national list in the 400. "We're right where we want to be."
Johnson, who also ran a 54.0 third leg in the 1,600 relay to help Ayala finish fourth in 3:53.24, was one of several athletes to post nation-leading marks in the meet that was contested while temperatures were in the 90s.
The Long Beach Poly boys' 800 relay team and the Chino boys' sprint-medley relay team each turned in nation-leading marks.
The Long Beach Poly foursome of junior Benny Robinson and seniors Darrell Rideaux, Sammie Parker and Kareem Kelly clocked 1:24.35 in the 800 relay to move to third on the all-time national list.
Only Wyatt High of Fort Worth, which ran 1:23.31 and 1:23.67 last year, has run faster than Poly.
Chino clocked 3:24.22 in the sprint-medley relay to move to 13th on the all-time national list and to fifth on the all-time state list.
Senior James DeBruhl ran a 1:52.2 800-meter anchor leg in the sprint-medley relay and later won the 800 in 1:55.64 and ran on a foursome that won the 1,600 relay in 3:18.45. Junior Oliver Jackson of Simi Valley Royal and sophomore Sara Bei of Santa Rosa Montgomery turned in other nation-leading marks.
Jackson won the boys' long jump with a leap of 24-4 3/4 and Bei won the girls' 3,000 in 9:46.27.
Bei, defending state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200, trailed leader Emily Kroshus of the Calgary (Canada) Spartans by nine seconds after the first 1,600, but she gradually closed the gap and surged past her with 50 meters left.