Carson's Reign Redmond inches closer to history at state track championships

Reign Redmond of Carson led girls' qualifiers in the 100 at the City Section prelims with a time of 11.78 seconds.
Reign Redmond of Carson is aiming to become the first City Section athlete to win back-to-back state titles in track and field on Saturday. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Reign Redmond chases her Carson High track teammates with bugs.

She’ll admit it too. Readily. She’ll get distracted at practice, pick up a bug with a stick and run around terrorizing her teammates. One fine April day, the senior went so far as to toss an insect at one of the boys on the track team.

Fellow members of Carson girls’ sprints unit love Redmond’s goofiness, falling all over themselves with laughter. And you’d be forgiven, then, if you looked at these Carson girls sprinters and think they’re unfocused. At meets, they’re loose at the starting line, and at practice they’re unstoppable forces of sheer entropy — tickling one another one minute, trying to trip each other the next.

“A lot of people probably look at us and be like, ‘What are they doing?’” said Ta’Ahjah Fann, a junior sprinter who transferred prior to the season from Santa Clarita Golden Valley.

But underestimate these Colts, and you’ll be treated to a streak of Carson blue whizzing by and a storm of bear hugs. They know when to turn it off and turn it on, Fann said. They were all business before team and individual heats at Friday’s state-championship qualifiers at Buchanan High in Clovis, Redmond not playing with bugs but shaking out her legs and furrowing her eyebrows before the gun in the girls’ 100-meter race.

And they showed they were the program to beat in the girls’ sprint categories, winning the 4x100 relay in 45.73 seconds as Redmond sped to a time of 11.47 seconds in a crowded girls’ 100 third heat to lead the field.

It’s the first step toward what would be a monumental achievement for Redmond and the City Section — becoming the first City athlete in history to win back-to-back state titles, as she narrowly beat out Gardena Serra’s Brazil Neal at last year’s finals in 11.56.

“That would be amazing,” Carson coach Amrit Lal said, “because Reign is the most fun kid.”

The senior has helped uplift a talented group of sprinters, further bolstered by sprints coach James Shannon’s new training regimen of Olympic-style weightlifting. Fann and freshman Christina Gray qualified for the finals — along with Redmond, three Carson runners advancing out of four total in a single heat.

“Trying to make a name for Carson — trying to also represent the City but also trying to represent ourselves,” Fann said in April of the group’s goals, “and get us out there on the map to be able to get full rides to schools.”

Granada Hills added another touch of City pride, as the boys’ team seeks to become the first state champion in City history since Dorsey in 2005. A talented Highlanders relay team breezed to a win at 40.49 in the boys’ 4x100 relay — almost a full second faster than any other squad — while two-sport star Dijon Stanley motored to a preliminaries-leading 46.66 in the boys’ 400 and narrowly beat a crowded field in the boys' 200.

Stanley’s biggest competition in the 400 evaporated as La Mesa Helix's Adren Parker — who entered with the second-fastest seed time — didn’t run and therefore won’t move to the finals. The next challenger is Long Beach Poly’s Xai Ricks, who put up a 46.68.

Spectators will have to wait one more day, meanwhile, to see Serra’s Rodrick Pleasant try to break the state-meet record at 100 meters, as he finished with a ho-hum time of 10.36 to lead the field by .14 seconds.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.