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Column: It’ll be ‘Fast Times at Arcadia High’ on Saturday

Four young men run on a track.
Chaminade High’s Patrick Ize-Lyamu Jr., second from right, wins the 100-meter dash at the 2021 Arcadia Invitational.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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Track and field fanatics are always excited to attend the Arcadia Invitational because it brings together California’s best high school athletes competing in the sport.

It’s also an attractive event for college football fans as several highly recruited athletes get to show off their speed in a preview of what they might do on Saturday afternoons while sprinting for touchdowns.

UCLA-bound receiver Jadyn Marshall from Stockton St. Mary’s has the fastest 110 hurdles time in the nation and is the defending Arcadia Invitational champion. He’ll be coming to town for Saturday’s competition that begins at 5:15 p.m. at Arcadia High. If you thought UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is good at hurdling defenders, wait until you see Marshall gliding over hurdles.

Young men jump over hurdles on a track.
Stockton St. Mary’s Jadyn Marshall (4) takes the early lead in winning the 110-meter hurdles at the 2021 Arcadia Invitational.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I love the competition,” he said. “I hope all the people from everywhere come and run.”

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Athletes from 622 schools across 27 states registered for the 54th Arcadia Invitational.

The 100 meters is so good that it could have its own pay-per-view show.

Let’s review the main contenders:

  • Simi Valley junior running back Jaelon Barbarin has a wind-aided 10.37 time in the 100 meters and owns a victory over USC-bound Max Thomas.
  • Gardena Serra junior cornerback Rodrick Pleasant will be focused on racing Barbarin instead of trying to tackle him. He has run 100 meters just once this season and that was a scintillating 10.39-second debut at the Texas Relays.
  • Thomas, a senior at Anaheim Servite, is a former soccer standout. He was supposed to focus on the 400 this spring, but has been running the 100 and 200 so fast that he’s sticking with the sprints and has been the most consistent for the last month.
  • Oregon-bound Patrick Ize-Iyamu of West Hills Chaminade is the defending champion in the 100 and is just starting to pick up speed as he makes a comeback from injury last season.
  • USC-bound Austin Overn of Santa Ana Foothill is a football-baseball standout running track for the first time and has already clocked a 10.49.
  • Arizona-bound Rayshon Luke of Bellflower St. John Bosco is a running back who set a freshman state record, didn’t run track during the COVID-19 seasons and has returned for his senior season to see how fast he can run.
  • Jordan Washington of Long Beach Jordan is a promising sophomore running back testing himself against veterans.
  • Micah Bell, a junior from Houston Kincaid, has run 10.45 seconds and is another outstanding cornerback with blazing speed.

As if that isn’t enough for football representation, junior running back Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills has run 47.56 in the 400, fourth-best in California.

The level of top athletes at this year’s event is reminiscent of the days when Michael Norman of Vista Murrieta was entertaining fans with his speed in the 200 and 400.

Camryn Bynum of St. John Bosco is No. 1 in the long jump at 24 feet, 4 inches, and No. 3 in the triple jump at 46-9.

Then there’s the great distance runners from Newbury Park — the brother duos of Colin and Aaron Sahlman and Leo and Lex Young. They set records in cross-country and are gearing up to set more distance records this spring. There are so many top runners for the boys’ 3,200 meters that they will stage multiple heats.

In the girls’ ranks, Duke-bound Dalia Frias of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa broke a state mile record last week that had stood since 1982. She’ll duel again with Ventura freshman Sadie Engelhardt.

Alabama-bound Samantha McDonnell of Newbury Park is starting to get into shape after being sidelined by injury. Kylee Davis of Santa Clarita Golden Valley has the state’s No. 1 long jump at 20-0.5.

Marshall, the sprinter from Stockton, said he plans to stay this week in Los Angeles, train and attend some UCLA spring football practices in preparation for competing next weekend at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational.

Asked if he had spoken with Thompson-Robinson hurdling tacklers, Marshall said, “I haven’t had that conversation with him.”

Just wait for the fall when the Bruins have two players hurdling over defenders.

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