The nomination of the homecoming queen often gets characterized as a popularity contest.
What gets lost in translation is what the nominee did to make an impact on the lives of others.
Tayla Crenshaw was named the homecoming queen for Costa Mesa High this past school year. Her twin sister, Felicia, was named the prom queen.
The Crenshaw twins served as fine ambassadors for the school. On campus, there were no two figures bigger than them, yet they were polite and personable to everyone they crossed paths with.
Their star rose as a result of their prowess in the throwing ring. For much of their prep track and field careers, Felicia held the spotlight, owing to the top-flight marks she produced from one week to the next.
Never short on work ethic, Tayla Crenshaw elevated her status in track and field circles this year, proving once and for all that she belonged on the big stage, too. For that, she has been selected as the Daily Pilot Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
So many people did believe in me. I just needed that in myself.
“I mentally had to push myself this year and just believe in myself, give myself that confidence,” Crenshaw said. “So many people did believe in me. I just needed that in myself.”
A two-time CIF State qualifier in the discus throw, Crenshaw’s final week as a Mustang saw her come out on top at a major crossroads for throwing legacy.
In her first state appearance as a junior, Crenshaw fouled out in the preliminaries, failing to produce a mark. The recent graduate admitted that doubt has a way of creeping into the picture in big moments.
“I think, for any athlete, doubt does creep in your mind, whether you’ll make it or not, but you try not to have those thoughts when you’re in the ring,” Crenshaw said. “I think at state, it was more real for me. Not when I got to the [Clovis Buchanan High] stadium, but before. I was like, ‘I don’t want it to be like last year where I scratch again.’”
She did not, authoring a throw of 140 feet, 6 inches to claim the last qualifying position for the state finals. Crenshaw took 10th place in the finals with a mark of 138-5.
When the calendar turned to April, Crenshaw turned it on. She won the open session of the national meet at Arcadia High, boosting her confidence with a berth in the Saturday night invitational flight.
Two weeks later, she unleashed her lifetime best with a mark of 142-11 at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Crenshaw excelled in both of her events, as she advanced to her first CIF Southern Section Masters Meet in the shotput. Prior to this spring, Crenshaw had just one CIF appearance in the shotput, bowing out in the Division 3 preliminaries as a sophomore.
Between making Masters in two events and advancing to her first state final in the discus, Crenshaw had quite a senior year. Asked to pick one or the other, Mustangs throws coach Hasan Asrar sees the latter as the bigger achievement.
“I’d say getting to the end is the biggest accomplishment because that is as far as you can go,” Asrar said. “She got to the very last day of track and field that you can possibly go to.
“With that confidence, that will roll over to college so that she can have new goals of accomplishment for herself.”
Crenshaw signed with UC Irvine, and the Anteaters will be happy to know that their new recruit never stops thinking about her craft.
She said she has been caught going through her throwing motion while at the grocery store with her mom. Friends have also been privy to the omnipresent training sessions.
“I’d be at my best friend’s house, and she would be like, ‘Tayla, can you sit down? Tayla, just sit down for a second,’” Crenshaw said with a laugh. “It would just be something that I would always think about because I wanted it so bad. I got it this year.”
Mustangs head coach Steve Moreno marveled at the influence that the Crenshaw twins had at Costa Mesa, as well as their impact on the track and field program.
“I think, as a coach, you get these athletes who just rise to the occasion,” Moreno said of the throwing duo.
As for Tayla Crenshaw’s breakout senior season, he added, “Tayla, again, rose to be her own person, showed the potential that she had within herself. She went all the way to the state meet.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Asrar had been around the Costa Mesa throwing program for years, but when Isaias Morales joined the coaching staff at Orange Lutheran, the understudy got promoted. Time in service with the Crenshaw twins paid off, and Asrar helped Tayla Crenshaw experience a breakthrough senior season. Under Asrar’s guidance, Tayla Crenshaw reached the CIF State finals for the first time in her career, and Felicia Crenshaw continued to produce elite marks with a new lead voice in her ear. Throughout their time together, Asrar said his favorite moment with the college-bound Crenshaw twins was seeing them make the state meet together in their junior year. “They really did set the bar high, not only for throwers, but also for twin throwers,” Asrar said. “I don’t think I’ll ever see that again. It’s been a lot of fun, and in terms of appreciativeness, I am very grateful to have had that opportunity with them.”
Throws | Costa Mesa | Sr.
After bringing home a CIF State medal in the discus as a junior, an encore performance would be tough to come by. An emergency appendectomy just before the Orange Coast League finals denied the San Diego State signee an opportunity to improve upon last year’s finish. Before that, Crenshaw put up big numbers. She finished with the second-best girls’ discus mark in the section at 153 feet, 2 inches (eighth in the state). Crenshaw finished with seven invitational wins in the discus her senior year, including her first Orange County title. The Orange County Championships marked a high point for Crenshaw, who also set a personal record of 42-3 in the shotput at the meet.
Sprints | Edison | So.
The area’s top sprinter qualified for CIF in three events, reaching the Division 1 finals in the 100 meters. She posted a new lifetime-best time of 12.27 seconds in the 100 at the Sunset League preliminaries, and she went on to sweep the sprints in the Sunset League finals. Hoffer also notched a new personal record in the 200 (25.25) at the Division 1 preliminaries, just missing the cut to make the Division 1 finals by placing 10th overall in the event. In addition, Hoffer teamed up with Paetyn Allen, Abby Schilling and Hannah Forest to send Edison’s 400 relay to the CIF preliminaries.
Distance runner | Costa Mesa | So.
As two Costa Mesa track and field stars walk out the door in the form of the Crenshaw twins, the Mustangs still have Molina to hang their hat on. Molina tripled as the Orange Coast League champion in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. She also served as the anchor leg on the Mustangs’ 1,600 relay team, which also qualified for the CIF Division 3 preliminaries. In the CIF postseason, the reigning Daily Pilot Girls’ Cross-Country Athlete of the Year turned her focus to her forte in distance running. She placed fifth in the Division 3 finals, her first CIF finals appearance in track and field. Molina broke 11 minutes in the 3,200 with a personal-record performance of 10:59.53 at the Arcadia Invitational.
All-around | Fountain Valley | Sr.
As one of the area’s most well-rounded athletes, Moreno showed her versatility throughout the season. She was a regular contributor on the Barons’ 400 relay team, which Fountain Valley coach Brian Bivens said set a school record of 48.86 seconds her junior year. As a senior, Moreno qualified for CIF in four different events — the 100 high hurdles, the long jump, the triple jump and the 400 relay. She also repeated as the triple jump champion of the Sunset League. Moreno and her twin sister, Breanna, plan to continue competing as track and field athletes at UC San Diego.
Throws | Marina | So.
At the end of last season, Marina said goodbye to a pair of CIF State-qualifying throwers in Kyle Tsu (UC Irvine) and Jake Arnold (Northern Arizona University). Rosales stepped up to become the new face of the Vikings’ throwing program. As a sophomore, Rosales advanced to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet in the discus. Her postseason push epitomized the “survive and advance” mentality, as she did just enough to move on to each new stage. Orange County Championships saw Rosales sweep the shotput and the discus in the frosh-soph division, with the Vikings’ rising star setting a meet record in the discus with a lifetime best of 131-8. Rosales will look to catch up to the competition in the shotput, where she established a new personal record of 35-6½ at the Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational.
All-around | Laguna Beach | Fr.
Shaw starred in the Laguna Beach girls’ 189-97 win over Godinez in the Orange Coast League finals at Costa Mesa High. She won league titles in the 200, the 400, the 1,600 relay and the long jump. She dropped the long jump in the CIF postseason, but she continued to compete in four events, replacing Shanai Auguis on the Breakers’ 400 relay team. Shaw reached the Division 3 finals in the 200, the 400, and the 400 relay. She heads into her sophomore year having set the following personal bests — 200 (25.42), 400 (57.16) and long jump (16-4½).
Pole vault | Corona del Mar | Sr.
In her second year as a competitor in the girls’ pole vault, Simon soared skyward toward the top of the rankings. The senior made her mark early in the season, achieving a career-best mark of 12 feet, 7 inches in just her third start of the year at the Triton Invitational. At the time of the jump, Simon held the best mark in the section. That rarefied air, however, was difficult to sustain. Simon had just one 12-foot jump the rest of the way, but her 12-4 showing in the Division 3 finals captured the section title. Simon only made the opening height at the CIF Southern Section Masters the following week, and she was unable to advance to her first CIF State meet. Simon, who is headed to UC Santa Barbara in the fall, finished with the fourth-best mark in the section, which was also good for eighth overall in the state this year.
DREAM TEAM PICKS
*CIF Southern Section Masters qualifier
100 — Cori Hoffer, Edison, So.
200 — Cori Hoffer, Edison, So.; Majia Shaw, Laguna Beach, Fr.
400 — Zoe Bixby, Newport Harbor, Fr.; Majia Shaw, Laguna Beach, Fr.
800 — Ashley Faller, Fountain Valley, Jr.; Sara Feitz, Fountain Valley, Jr.
1,600 — Ashley Faller, Fountain Valley, Jr.; Diane Molina, Costa Mesa, So.
3,200 — Brooklyn Button, Sage Hill, Sr.; Evie Cant, Laguna Beach, Sr.; Avery Dorff, Edison, Sr.; Isabel Glassen, Newport Harbor, Fr.; Diane Molina, Costa Mesa, So.
100HH — Julianne Bartz, Corona del Mar, Sr.; Courtnee Moreno, Fountain Valley, Sr.
300IH — Paige Damron, Corona del Mar, Jr.
400 relay — Edison; Fountain Valley; Laguna Beach
1,600 relay — Corona del Mar; Fountain Valley; Newport Harbor
HJ — Xolani Hodel, Huntington Beach, So.
LJ — Kailey Frye, Edison, So.; Breanna Moreno, Fountain Valley, Sr.; Courtnee Moreno, Fountain Valley, Sr.; Bree Smentkowski, Huntington Beach, Sr.
TJ — Breanna Moreno, Fountain Valley, Sr.; Courtnee Moreno, Fountain Valley, Sr.
PV — Morgan Simon, Corona del Mar, Sr.*; Shannon Strassman, Corona del Mar, Fr.; Alison Young, Huntington Beach, Sr.
SP — Felicia Crenshaw, Costa Mesa, Sr.; Tayla Crenshaw, Costa Mesa, Sr.*; Xolani Hodel, Huntington Beach, So.
DT — Simona Bocancea, Corona del Mar, Sr.; Felicia Crenshaw, Costa Mesa, Sr.; Tayla Crenshaw, Costa Mesa, Sr.*; Alejandra Rosales, Marina, So.*