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Notre Dame's Khalfani Muhammad starts well despite heat

The Sherman Oaks Notre Dame sprinter improves his personal best in the 100 meters during Friday's preliminaries.

June 01, 2012|By Steve Galluzzo
  • Sherman Oak Notre Dame's Khalfani Muhammad wins the 100 meters at the Southern Section championships at Mt. San Antonio College on May 19.
Sherman Oak Notre Dame's Khalfani Muhammad wins the 100 meters at… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Survival was the underlying theme in sweltering conditions on the first day of the 94th annual CIF state track and field championships at Clovis Buchanan High School. The temperature was over 100 degrees when Friday's preliminaries began and athletes were trying to qualify for today's finals without suffering from heat exhaustion in the process.

There was no cooling down Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior Khalfani Muhammad, who bettered his personal best in the boys' 100 meters, winning his heat and placing first overall in 10.44 seconds. A few hours later, he clocked the fastest qualifying time in the 200 (21.16). He also ran the anchor leg for the Knights in the 400 relay — the first event of the day.

"It's a beautiful day — we run in this kind of heat all the time in the San Fernando Valley," Muhammad said.

Oxnard Rio Mesa's boys 400 relay team of Rod White, Blake Selig, Darion Zimmerman and Cameron Roach posted the fastest time overall (41.14) while Westlake Village Oaks Christian, Gardena Serra and Notre Dame also won their heats to advance to the finals along with Long Beach Poly (fifth overall) and Los Angeles Loyola (seventh).

"Our coaches have us really prepared and we're excited for tomorrow," said Selig, who later took second in his heat in 10.61 and qualified fifth overall in the 100. "Our hotel is only a mile away so we're going back there for a couple hours to relax and recover."

Serra topped a loaded field in the boys 4x400, clocking 3:14.60 for the fastest overall time. Masters winner West Hills Chaminade won its heat and was second overall in 3:16.40, Vista Murrieta won its heat in 3:16.61, Rio Mesa was fourth overall in 3:15.90 and Carson, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Woodland Hills Taft also advanced to the finals.

Aptos junior Nikki Hiltz and reigning state champion Cami Chapus of Studio City Harvard-Westlake set up their highly anticipated showdown by winning their heats in the girls' 1,600 meters. Hiltz ran the four laps in 4:55.09 — the fastest time overall — and Chapus, who acknowledged she ran faster than she intended, was second overall in 4:56.03.

"This [heat] is a drastic change from what I'm used to in Santa Cruz, so I thought I'd be dead after the race," said Hiltz, the Central Coast Section champion who was third in the state last year. "I feel like I'm peaking at the right time. I'm not going to set the pace tomorrow, I just want to be on Cami's shoulder and see what happens in the final 100."

Heading to the team's air-conditioned bus to rest up for the 4x400 relay, in which she and the Wolverines qualified third overall, Chapus admitted she ran the 1600 faster than she wanted.

"I wanted to go a bit slower but keep my position in the Top 4 to make sure I automatically qualified," said Chapus, who clocked a state-leading 4:43.90 to win last week's Southern Section Masters Meet. "I ended up controlling the race from where I was, but either way we're all really smart runners and know what we need to do."

Harvard-Westlake senior Amy Weissenbach, who will join Chapus at Stanford next fall, won her 800 heat in 2:09.87 — the third-fastest time overall. Weissenbach set the national prep record of 2:02.04 at state last year and ran a state-leading 2:05.55 to win her third Masters title a week ago.

Serra's Renetia James and Alexis Faulknor qualified for the finals in their sprint events. James broke her own state-leading 400 time by 0.15 of a second in 54.26 while Faulknor ran the fastest 200 time (23.57) and won her 100 heat in 11.55 — the second-fastest overall. The Cavaliers' seniors also teamed with Jade Pavajeau and Maya Brown to post the fastest qualifying time in the 400 relay (46.10). James ran the anchor leg on Serra's 400 relay, which won its heat with the top qualifying time of 3:46.43 and Faulknor's leap of 19 feet, 4.75 inches was also the best mark of the day in the long jump.

"We want to win the team title and this was the first step," James said. "If we do just a well tomorrow I think we'll have a good chance."

Poly sophomore Ariana Washington also won her heats in the 100 and 200 and anchored the Jackrabbits' 400 relay, which won its heat and finished third overall in 46.56.

"No Poly girl has won the 100 and 200, so I want to be the first and hopefully I can PR in both," said Washington, who posted personal-bests in the 100 (11.45) and 200 (21.65) at the Southern Section finals. "Today was about winning my heats, qualifying and staying hydrated. Heat really drains you, so you have to drink lots of water and stay out of the sun."

Rancho Cucamonga junior Jordie Munford won her heats in the girls' 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles while Cougars senior Luis Gutierrez was the top qualifier in the boys' 1,600 at 4:10.75.

Ethan Cochran of Newport Beach Newport Harbor qualified first in the boys shot put (64 feet, 6.5 inches) and discus (190 feet) while Ontario Colony's Miles Poullard and Anaheim Canyon's Cody Crampton cleared 6-8 to lead the boys high jump competition.

Sophomore Stamatia Scarvelis of Goleta Dos Pueblos was the leading qualifier in the girls shot put (44-6.0) while Santa Margarita freshman Kaitlyn Meritt cleared 12-2.75 to lead all qualifiers in the girls pole vault. Senior Tim White of Newhall Hart qualified first in the boys triple jump with a distance of 50-2.75.

Today's finals begin at 4:30 p.m. for field events and 6 p.m. for running events.

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