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.