Sydney McLaughlin is quite comfortable being the center of attention and with all eyes fixed on her the 17-year-old phenom with textbook form and supermodel looks treated Southern California track and field fans to a performance they will never forget Saturday night in the 50th annual Arcadia Invitational at Arcadia High.
Making her season debut in an event she had never run before, the University of Kentucky-bound senior and 2016 Olympic qualifier from Union Catholic High in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, blazed to a new national prep record of 38.90 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles Invitational heat.
"I wasn't thinking about records, just getting used to the length and leaving a lasting impression was my idea," said McLaughlin, who bettered by more than one second the previous mark of 39.98 set in 2001 by Lashinda Demus, the 400 hurdles American record-holder and 2012 Olympic silver medalist. "I take it one meet at a time, one practice at a time. I don't look to the future."
Last summer, McLaughlin clocked 54.15 to set the national high school and world junior record in the 400 hurdles, finishing third at the U.S. Olympic trials and becoming the youngest American track Olympian in more than 40 years. She set national high school records for the open 300 and 400 meters during the indoor season and ran the 400 leg on the American team that set the distance medley relay world record of 10:40.31 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in January.
McLaughlin made her latest cross-country trip well worth it. Norco's Shae Anderson (40.41) and Vacaville's Jurnee Woodward (41.10) were second and third, respectively, in the second- and third-fastest times in the nation this year. Anderson later won the 200 in 23.73, edging Gardena Serra's Jasmin Reed (23.84). With defending champion Lauren Rain Williams of Westlake Village Oaks Christian unable to compete because of a leg injury, Reed won the 100 with a time of 11.58.
The other star of the meet was Georgia-bound Tara Davis of Agoura, who won the 100 hurdles for the second consecutive time at Arcadia in a personal-best 13.01, also a new state record and the fastest time in the country this year by three-tenths of a second. Davis then led her own cheering section on her way to first place in the triple jump with a national-leading distance of 41 feet 7.75 inches. She completed her trifecta by winning the long jump with a leap of 20-4 1/2.
"I was running the hurdles angrily after a mishap during the triple [jump] and I still had that in my head, but I ran out of it," said Davis, the reigning state champion in both the 100 hurdles and triple jump. "I'm happy to run my best time."
Javelin Guidry of Vista Murrieta won the boys' 100 in a meet-record 10.34, the No. 2 clocking in the nation this year, sophomore Brian Herron of Atlanta Lakeside won the 400 in an impressive 46.47 and Cory Poole of East Orange Campus, N.J., won the boys' 300 hurdles Invitational race in 36.55 (No. 3 in the country this year).
Anaheim Canyon pole vaulter Rachel Baxter, who cleared 14-2 to break the state record last year, defended her Arcadia title with a height of 13-6 and Tate Curran of Redondo won the boys' pole vault with a season-best 17-1.
Isaac Green of Monarch, Colo., won the boys' mile in 4:09.69 and Madison Mooney of Broomfield, Colorado won the girls' mile in 4:47.32. Alex Scales of San Jose Bellarmine won the boys' Invitational 800 in 1:50.64 and California's Alyssa Brewer won the girls' 800 in 2:07.90.
Malibu sophomore Claudia Lane won the women's 3200 in 9:57.52, beating Brie Oakley of Grandview, Colo., by seven-hundredths of a second. Oakley was named the Gatorade national girls cross-country runner of the year in the fall. Cooper Teare of Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame won the men's 3200 in 8:41.46.