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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Menifee Heritage hurdler Torrey Atkins is set to fly without fear in Arcadia

Saturday's Arcadia Invitational track and field meet, one of Southern California's best high school sporting events, will be filled with terrific athletes.

April 10, 2014|Eric Sondheimer
  • Menifee Heritage's Torrey Atkins will be one of the top athletes to watch at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday at Arcadia High.
Menifee Heritage's Torrey Atkins will be one of the top athletes to… (Sherri Cortez / Handout )

The Arcadia Invitational will be filled with terrific athletes. It has become one of the best high school sporting events in Southern California.

Hurdlers must have a fearless gene in their body, and junior Torrey Atkins of Menifee Heritage High shows every indication he has one.

He attacks each hurdle with a focus and determination that allow him to fly over obstacles as if they weren't in his way.

"I feel I'm shooting out like a rocket," he said.

Two weeks ago, he ran a personal-best time of 14.17 seconds in the 110 high hurdles at the Mt. Carmel Invitational. He'll be one of the athletes to watch at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday at Arcadia High.

He started his career as a freshman at Long Beach Poly. Friends were trying the hurdles, and he joined them.

He moved to Hemet as a sophomore to live with his father and started training on his own, studying video and working out as much as he could. He ran in all-comers meets and tried to learn the fundamental techniques required to excel.

"I was dropping crazy times that I never thought I could do," he said.

A quadriceps injury last year slowed his progress, but he's now healthy and emerging as one of the best hurdlers in the state.

"I want to become something great," he said.

He's 6 feet 2, 155 pounds and 17 years old.

"He's an amazing athlete," Coach Charles Wakeman said. "He's fun to watch."

The Arcadia Invitational will be filled with terrific athletes. It has become one of the best high school sporting events in Southern California.

Junior Justin Collins of Carson, a quarterback in football, has been creating buzz in the hurdles. He owns the state's fastest time of 37.53 seconds for 300 meters.

Sprinter Curtis Godin of Santa Ana Mater Dei, a former baseball player who has accepted a track scholarship to UCLA, has the fastest times in the 100 meters (10.42) and 200 meters (21.18).

Carl Johansson of Orange Lutheran keeps soaring in the pole vault with a best mark of 16 feet, 7 1/2 inches.

In the girls' competition some of the standouts are Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley in the 3,200, Ariana Washington of Long Beach Poly in the 100 and Courtney Corrin of Studio City Harvard-Westlake in the long jump. Pole vaulter Kaitlyn Merritt is back to defend her title.

The first running event for the invitational portion of the meet is at 5:25 p.m. There's open competition all day.

Baseball showdown

Jack Flaherty of Studio City Harvard-Westlake hasn't lost a game on the mound since the 2012 season. He's 18-0 during the streak. That makes Monday's Mission League showdown at O'Malley Family Field against Los Angeles Loyola the game of the year.

Stanford-bound Quinn Brodey or UCLA-bound Nathan Hadley will oppose Flaherty, who's 5-0 with a 0.58 ERA this season. Loyola has won 13 consecutive games since a season-opening loss to Calabasas.

These teams are among the five best in Southern California. It's a 3:45 p.m. start time, and scouts and fans are expected to turn out in large numbers. A second game is set for Thursday at Loyola.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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