Long Beach Poly's Ariana Washington (center) wins the 100 meters… (Steve Galluzzo / For The…)
Khalfani Muhammad and Ariana Washington did what they were expected to do Friday night in the CIF Masters Meet at Cerritos College. Now the expectations are even greater for Southern California's top two sprinters.
Muhammad, a Cal-bound senior from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, repeated as the 100- and 200-meter champion, winning the 100 in a school-record 10.22 seconds and running a personal-best 20.73 in the 200, breaking his own school record and making him the favorite to repeat in both events at the state finals next Friday and Saturday in Clovis.
Although wind-aided, Muhammad's 100 time beat the Southern Section record of 10.25 set by Hawthorne's Henry Thomas in 1984, and his 200 time was the fastest by a San Fernando Valley athlete since Quincy Watts of Woodland Hills Taft clocked 20.50 in 1987.
"I like being the favorite because there's more pressure and that brings out the best in me," said Muhammad, who watched Washington win her race and vowed not to be outdone. "We're both very competitive so if she wins I have to try to top that."
Muhammad's next goal is to duplicate his performance at last year's state meet, where he anchored the Knights' winning 4-by-100 relay, won the 100 in a wind-aided 10.52 and won the 200 in a wind-aided 21.15.
Washington, a junior from Long Beach Poly, was equally impressive in the girls' 100 and 200. She took the 100 in 11.27, just off her winning time in the Southern Section Division 1 finals, and ran a personal-best 23.18 in the 200 — the second-fastest time in the nation this year.
Despite winning both events at the state finals last spring, Washington was disappointed that the Jackrabbits didn't win their fifth consecutive team title. So in Friday's first event she ran a blazing first leg to help Poly's 4-by-100 relay take first place in a national-leading 44.94, not far off the national prep record of 44.50 — which Poly set in 2004.
Washington, who won the 100 in 11.61 and the 200 in 23.55 at last year's Masters, said: "I'm peaking, and I'm geared up for next week, which will be tough because I'm also running the 4-by- 400, which means seven events in two days."
Simi Valley junior Sarah Baxter won her third straight Masters title in the 3,200 in 10:17.58, having won in 10:08.71 last year and 10:24.35 as a freshman in 2011. She can now set her sights on a third straight state crown while trying to become only the fifth girl in California history to break 10 minutes. She ran 10:12 at the state meet last season.
Despite finishing third in 48.03, Alex Rohani of Beverly Hills easily qualified for the prelims and is confident he will defend his state 400 title. After falling behind on the first turn, he couldn't catch Etiwanda's Miles Parish (47.45) or Gardena Serra's Ronny Hall (47.65).