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Khalfani Muhammad wins two sprint events at championships

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior rallies to win the Southern Section Division 3 boys' 100 meters and also finishes first in the 200, both in state-best times this year.

May 19, 2012|Eric Sondheimer
  • Notre Dame's Khalfani Muhammad, middle, wins the boys' 100-meter during the Southern Section track and field championships Saturday at Mt San Anonio College.
Notre Dame's Khalfani Muhammad, middle, wins the boys' 100-meter… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Junior Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High thrives on having a target on his back as the sprinter you have to beat to be considered the fastest teenager in California.

"Everybody wants to come after me," he said. "I love it. I love the pressure."

On Saturday at the Southern Section track and field championships, Muhammad recovered from a momentary slip at the start of the Division 3 100 meters to win in a wind-aided 10.45 seconds, the fastest time in the state this year. Blake Selig of Oxnard Rio Mesa ran 10.50 to finish second.

"I had to work my butt off to get ahead," Muhammad said.

Thirty years ago, Muhammad's father, Malik, won state sprint titles in Maryland, and the son is on a path to duplicate the feat in California. Muhammad also won the 200 in a state-best 21.10.

"Hopefully, in two weeks, he'll be in peak form," Notre Dame Coach Joe McNab said.

On a cloudless day at Mount San Antonio College, a talented collection of girl athletes took center stage.

Sophomore Ariana Washington of Long Beach Poly won the Division 1 100 in 11.45, the second-fastest time in the nation. She also took the 200 in 23.52. Senior Ashley Curenton of Silverado went 20 feet 4 inches in the long jump, the second-best mark in the nation.

Freshman Kaitlyn Merritt of Santa Margarita, a former gymnast, went 13-3 to win the Division 3 pole vault in the best-ever mark by a freshman girl in the event.

Senior Amy Weissenbach of Studio City Harvard-Westlake set a Division 3 record in the 800 with a time of 2:07.38. Jordie Munford of Rancho Cucamonga ran a nation-leading 41.37 in the Division 1 300 hurdles.

It was in this meet several years ago when the signs of Gardena Serra's pending dominance in football become apparent with the likes of Robert Woods in the hurdles, George Farmer in the sprints and Marqise Lee in the jumps.

Now sophomore Adoree Jackson, a 5-foot-10 cornerback who moved to the area from Illinois last fall, is creating excitement. He has leaped 24-10 in the long jump, and Saturday, he won the Division 4 long jump at 23-71/2.

"Adoree has the potential, by the time he leaves high school, to set the national record at 26-7," Serra jumps coach Russell Biggs said. "He's one of those guys who has the complete package. He has so much explosiveness."

Two division records were set in the 400 relays. Serra's girls' team set the Division 4 record at 45.80 and the Rio Mesa boys' team won in a Division 3 record time of 41.05.

The best nine marks in running events qualified for Friday's Masters Meet at Cerritos College, with the best 12 moving on in field events and distance races.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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