High School

SoCal sprinters face huge challenges at state track and field championships

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Jeff Duensing of Anaheim Esperanza qualifed for the shotput finals at Friday’s CIF state track and field championships in Clovis.
(Jerry Soifer / For The Times)

With the temperature a refreshing 76 degrees in Clovis on Friday night for the first day of the two-day CIF state track and field championships at Buchanan High School, athletes didn’t have to deal with the excessive heat frequently present for the championships in years past.

It was all about qualifying and advancing to Saturday’s finals. And it wasn’t easy for the Southern California contingent.

The Southern Section’s two fastest sprinters in boys and girls, Christian Grubb of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and De’Anna Nowling of Calabasas, both will face huge challenges in Saturday’s 100 finals.

Grubb was the sixth-fastest qualifier on Friday at 10.62 seconds after losing his first 100 race of the season. He finished second in his heat and seemed to tighten up in the final 30 meters after leading the race. The fastest qualifier was Kenan Christon of San Diego Madison. He ran a wind-aided 10.32 seconds and also ran a 20.67 200.

Notre Dame coach Joe McNab said he thought Grubb was trying too hard and didn’t run as relaxed as he usually does. Grubb finished second in his 200 heat in 21.41. Mekhi Mays of Gardena Serra ran 21.25.

Freshman Rayshon Luke of Bellflower St. John Bosco qualified at 10.55, setting a state record for the fastest 100 by a freshman. Former West Hills Chaminade standout TJ Brock set the old record at 10.57 in 2013.

Nowling, the defending 100 girls’ champion, won her heat in 11.70. The top qualifier was Chinyere Okoro of Pleasanton Amador Valley at 11.56. Nowling won her 200 heat in 24.23.

Sophomore Anthony Taylor of L.A. Cathedral ran 14.08 to qualify in the 110 hurdles final. Gino Cruz of Newbury Park led qualifiers in the discus at 195-0. Junior Christian Rodriguez of Dorsey qualified for the 800 final with a time of 1:53.80.

USC-bound Brayden Borquez of Studio City Harvard-Westlake won his 400 heat in 47.29. He dropped the 300 hurdles last week to focus on the 400. Junior Solomon Strader of West Ranch won his heat in 47.68, charging from far back in the final straightaway to overtake his competitors. Both will face a tough challenge in the final. Zachary Larrier of Elk Grove Monterey Trail ran 46.76.

Reyte Rash of Riverside King and Caleb Roberson of Upland both made it to the 300 hurdles finals with times of 37.11 and 36.80, respectively.

One of the best finals on Saturday should be the girls’ 1,600, where three Southern California-based athletes lead the qualifiers. Mia Barnett of Sun Valley Village Christian had the fastest time at 4:50.04 in the prelims, followed by Fatima Cortes of Temecula Great Oak at 4:51.02 and Audrey Suarez of Pasadena Mayfield at 4:51.21.

Freshman Samarra Monrroy of Long Beach Millikan won her 400 heat in 54.64.

Freshman Caelyn Harris of Upland finished first in the long jump at 20-2¼. Taylor Shorter of Norco won her 100 hurdles heat in 13.99.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @latsondheimer