Rodrick Pleasant lives up to the hype, claims state titles in 100 and 200 meters

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Gardena Serra's Roderick Pleasant, center, celebrates after winning.
Gardena Serra's Roderick Pleasant, center, celebrates after winning the boys' 100 meters at the CIF state track and field championships in Clovis, Calif., on Saturday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Rodrick Pleasant certainly lived up to expectations Saturday in the CIF state track and field championships at Buchanan High. The junior from Gardena Serra won his two sprint events in a display of speed that brought back memories of Vista Murrieta’s Michael Norman in 2015 and 2016.

The featured boys' sprint race was supposed to be the 100, but the 400 nearly stole the show as City Section champion Dijon Stanley from Granada Hills and Southern Section Division 2 winner Christopher Goode of Valencia West Ranch sought to deal Central’s Jeremiah Walker his first loss all season in the 400. Like the girls' 100, the finish was a virtual dead heat but when the times were posted, Walker had prevailed in 47.49, two- hundredths of a second ahead of Goode and Stanley.

“Chris [Goode] and I were trying to do it — I wanted this to be my revenge tour,” said Stanley, who was third by thousandths of a second. “I only had one race left, so coming off the last turn I knew I had to give it everything I had. In the end, [Walker] got me against today.”

The biggest stage, however, belonged to Pleasant, who caused a national stir at the Southern Section Masters Meet by clocking a state-record 10.14 in the 100 to equal the world’s second-fastest wind-legal time ever by a 17-year-old. On Saturday, he proved that performance was no fluke with a 10.30 effort to beat top qualifier Jordan Washington of Long Beach Jordan and Max Thomas from Anaheim Servite, both finishing in 10.44 in a field of runners who all had run sub-10.60 in preliminaries.

“I’m not satisfied yet,” Pleasant said. “It’s time to finish up strong.”

Pleasant was also favored in the 200, having run a personal-best 20.40 two weeks earlier in the Southern Section finals for a state record by an 11th-grader and move into second all time behind Norman (20.14) in 2016. Once again, Pleasant took control from the start and won on 20.56.

As he had 24 hours earlier, Pleasant started his day by anchoring the Cavaliers’ 400 relay team, which took second behind Central.

Carson junior Reign Redmond wins the girls' 100 meters by one-hundredth of a second over Serra's Brazil Neal.
Carson junior Reign Redmond, left, wins the girls' 100-meter state title by one-hundredth of a second over Gardena Serra's Brazil Neal. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

In the closest race of the day, Carson junior Reign Redmond won the girls' 100 by one-hundredth of second in 11.56 over Brazil Neal of Gardena Serra, who earlier led the Cavaliers to victory in the 400 relay with teammate Jordan Washington, who was third in the 100 in 11.62. A hush fell over the stadium crowd in the moments after the race as no one knew who had won until 20 seconds later when the official times appeared on the scoreboard. It was all heart for Redmond, who had ran a personal-best 11.45 in Friday’s prelims to break a City Section mark that had stood since 1977.

Redmond and Neal expected to duel again in the 200 meters an hour later, but Redmond was a late scratch and Neal took advantage, prevailing in a lifetime best 23.68 to propel the Cavaliers into first in the team standings. Aujane Luckey (23.97) of Long Beach Wilson, Eve Divinity (24.03) from Redondo and Adonijah Currie (24.05) of Santa Clarita Golden Valley were third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ventura freshman Sadie Engelhardt took the lead around the final turn to win the girls' 1,600 in 4 minutes, 36.67 seconds, beating a loaded field that included Duke-bound senior Dalia Frias (second in 4:37.09) of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa and Alabama signee Sam McDonnell of Newbury Park, who was third in 4:37.37.

Ventura freshman Sadie Engelhardt, left, won the girls' 1,600-meter state title on Saturday.
Ventura freshman Sadie Engelhardt, left, won the girls' 1,600-meter state title on Saturday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“I kind of wanted to see how I felt at the beginning and was going to go to the front but the wind was really gnarly on the backstretch so I gave them the lead,” Engelhardt said. “I switched positions and because we had the prelims yesterday this was the first time I could really run all-out today,”

Engelhardt tried to double back in the 800 but was out-kicked by North’s Mackenzie Brown, who won in 2:08.66. Englehardt was second in 2:09.64.

McDonnell capped off her prep career with a third-place finish in the 3,200 in 10:12.76. Hanne Thomsen of Montgomery won in 10:06.89.

Newbury Park junior Aaron Sahlman, who was first in prelims, was fourth in the boys' 800 finals in 1:51.42 and teammate Daniel Appleford was the runner-up in the 3,200 in 8:58.42. Will Sheehy of Studio City Harvard-Westlake was fourth in 9:00.50.

Corona del Mar senior Jason Plumb took first place in the long jump over Golden Valley’s Elijha Ellis. Both leaped 24 feet, 5.75 inches, but Plumb had a better second jump. “I wouldn’t say it’s an upset, but the best guys in California are all here so I’m excited to win it,” said Plumb, who is trained by world-record Mike Powell. “I’ve learned so much from him.”

Camryn O’Bannon of Bellflower St. John Bosco won the triple jump in 47-06.75.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior April Fontenette was second in the girls' discus and third in the shot put.

Long Beach Wilson (3:47.92) was second and Culver City (3:48.68) was third in the girls' 1,600 relay. Los Angeles Cathedral won an exciting boys 1,600 relay in 3:13.97, less than one second ahead of team champion Central.

Serra won the girls' team championship with 37 points.

While the CIF state meet was going on in California, Newbury Park senior Colin Sahlman was in Eugene, Oregon, at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, where he ran the third-fastest outdoor mile ever by a U.S. high schooler with a time of 3:56.24.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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