Gardena Serra’s Rodrick Pleasant clocks a 10.40 in first 100-meter dash of spring
As the clock struck 1:15 p.m. and the kid with the Superman on his chest lined up in the blocks, his peers swarmed over from the rest areas at Trabuco Hills High, the once-packed green of the football field suddenly empty.
This was Oregon commit Rodrick Pleasant’s first race of a much-anticipated senior year at Gardena Serra High, a spring filled with endless potential to snap his own unthinkable 10.14-second state record in the 100-meter dash that he set his junior season. So fellow competitors in the Trabuco Hills Invitational formed a throng behind the fluttering barrier around the track, mutters building before the starting gun.
“It’s what the track world needs,” Pleasant said of the excitement.
The pop sounded, and a puffing Pleasant faced sudden stiff competition from Los Alamitos sophomore Devin Bragg, who ran a 10.35 as a freshman. Cool, Bragg said he thought. I’m keeping up with him.
Then they hit the halfway mark, and Bragg saw Pleasant shift.
“That’s when I knew,” Bragg said, “he got me.”
Pleasant pulled away in the final stretch to finish in 10.40, tying the Trabuco Hills meet record held by Anaheim Servite’s Max Thomas and good for the second-fastest time in the nation in the spring track season. Considering his season preparation got pushed back considerably in the midst of a February commitment decision, the performance offered a tantalizing glimpse of the heights Pleasant could reach before he heads to Oregon.
“Saw a little glimpse of Rod from last year,” coach Christopher Mack said.
The late start, Pleasant said, was “frustrating.” But his acceleration and velocity hardly showed rust on Saturday, and Mack in particular said he was pleased with Pleasant’s “top-end speed.”
Bragg, meanwhile, impressed with a second-place time of 10.56, also without his usual preparation after transferring back to Los Alamitos recently from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon.
“I expected him to be way out there,” Bragg said of Pleasant, “but I kept up with him, so I was happy with that.”
Mack beamed after the race, gloating he’d perfectly predicted Pleasant’s time after telling The Los Angeles Times on Friday he expected the senior to run a 10.4. And when asked if he had a target mark for Pleasant, he turned his head to the Oregon commit, who shook his head and smiled back.
“We don’t have to put a limit on it,” Pleasant grinned.
Making a name for herself
As much personality as Pleasant brings to the track, it’s nothing compared to the style of Gardena Serra’s Brazil Neal, who stands out thanks to bright-red hair she dyed while bored during the COVID-19 pandemic and stuck with it.
Neal, the state champion in the 200 meters last season, gave Serra both 100-meter dash titles with a first-place mark of 11.83 at Trabuco Hills.
Neal, same as Pleasant, is headed to Oregon — committing just three days before Pleasant on Jan. 29.
“We’ve always been in it together … being with him for four years and then going to be together for another four years,” Neal said of Pleasant, “it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my boy.’”
Meagan Humphries’ IG handle is simple, and extremely clever: “@msjumphries.”
The Castaic junior has always been known, she said, as a leaper. On a whim, she and her family decided before the Trabuco Hills Invitational to get some marks as a sprinter — and Humphries not only took first place in the long jump, she won the 400-meter dash and set a new state-leading (wind-aided) mark at 200 meters with a time of 24.04 seconds.
“I was manifesting it,” Humphries said, “but I wouldn’t say I was expecting to win.”
—Redondo Union’s Dylan Curtis set a state-leading mark of 16 feet, 1 inch in the pole vault on his third attempt. He also finished third in the long jump with a mark of 20-6 ½.
—Gardena Serra had another standout in junior Jaiya Fletcher, who notched a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.74 seconds.
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