Harvard-Westlake's winning distance medley relay team (left to… (Steve Galluzzo / For The…)
Not even a dropped baton at the start of the anchor leg could prevent the Studio City Westlake High girls' distance medley relay team from running the nation's fastest prep time this year Saturday night at the 45th annual Arcadia Invitational.
The Wolverines, who clocked 11 minutes, 22:23 seconds to set the national outdoor record in the event by a whopping nine seconds at the New Balance Nationals last June, overcame a mishandled exchange between Elle Wilson and Cami Chapus to outclass a loaded field in 11:45.18, easily besting this season's previous best time of 12:00.64 set by The Woodlands, Texas.
Amy Weissenbach, the Gatorade national girls' track and field athlete of the year in 2011, staked Harvard-Westlake to a big lead, running the first 1,200 meters in 3:36.66. Freshman Shea Copeland held the lead for the 400-meter sprint before junior Elle Wilson kept the lead for the next two laps. Victory seemed assured until Chapus dropped the baton and was passed by two runners before getting back into the race.
"I always struggle at pacing [the 1,200] because it's not a standard distance — it's either a short 1,600m or a long 800," said Weissenbach, who heads for Stanford in the fall along with Chapus. "I try to treat this like a long 800, because that way I can go out fast."
Chapus, the defending state champion in the 1,600 meters, ran the four-lap anchor leg in 4:49.5 after averting the minor crisis. Redondo Union's Lyndsey Mull pushed Chapus for the first 800 meters, but the Wolverines senior pulled away to give her team a sweep of the sprint and distance medleys.
"The baton thing was my fault," Chapus said. "[Elle] thought I had it and I thought she was still holding onto it," Chapus said. "Once I picked it up and got going, I forgot about it and ran my race. I'm so proud of Elle for keeping us ahead. She's been working so hard all year and she gave it everything she had today."
Long Beach Poly's girls also had a successful meet. Senior Traci Hicks won the invitational 100 hurdles in a personal-best 13.63, one of the five fastest times in the country this year.
After breaking the school and City Section record to win the 4x1,600 seeded relay in 21:12.98 on Friday, San Pedro's girls did it again Saturday afternoon, taking first place in the seeded distance medley relay in 12:26.96.
Making the double even more impressive was that three Pirates participated both races, including senior Evelyn Gonzalez, who ran a personal-best 5:06 on the anchor leg Friday and ran the opening leg (1,200 meters) in 3:47 Saturday.
Junior Morgan Simon of Los Angeles Loyola won the boys' 200 meters in 21.90, edging Gardena Serra's Darrell Fuery by four-hundredths of a second. Taylor Fleming of Riverside King won the girls' 300 hurdles in 43.52. Vinnie Saucer of Westlake Village Oaks Christian won the 100-meter seeded race in 10.60 and Oak Park's Sydney Ashley Lewis won the girls' seeded 100 meters in 11.90. Kyree King of Ontario Colony won the boys' 100 in 10.70 seconds and Terance Narvaez from Moreno Valley Canyon Springs won the boys' 400 in 48.59.
Long Beach Poly's Veth Seng, Austin Gunter, Colin Monaco and Arizona State-bound wide receiver Richard Smith won the final event of the meet, the boys' invitational 4x400 relay. The Jackrabbits' foursome finished in 3:18.55 to edge St. John Bosco (3:20.40) and Dorsey (3:20.43).
"We were inspired watching the girls and didn't want them to get more medals than us," Gunter said."