Column: City Section showcases its budding resurgence at track and field finals

Jordan Coleman roars with approval after handing the baton to Dijon Stanley.
Jordan Coleman roars with approval after handing the baton to Dijon Stanley as Granada Hills set a City Section record in the boys’ 4x100-meter relay with a time of 40.68 seconds.
(Craig Weston)

If you’ve lived in Los Angeles for a long time, you know the glorious history of City Section track and field.

In the 1970s, there were sprinters Billy Mullins of Hamilton and Kevin Williams of San Fernando and hurdlers Philip Johnson of Gardena and Charles White of San Fernando. In the 1980s, fans were filling stadiums and making bets in the bleachers when sprinters Quincy Watts of Taft and Bryan Bridgewater of Washington were dueling in the 100 and 200. There were the Howard sisters from Granada Hills Kennedy, Denean and Sherri, and hurdler Choo Choo Knighten from Locke setting the standard in girls’ track.

At Thursday’s City Section finals, there were many empty spots in the bleachers on both sides at El Camino College. Yes, the talent level has dropped considerably, but if only people knew what they missed — a sign of resurgence.


“The City Section is back — a little,” former Dorsey coach Ralph Tilley proclaimed.

The first record to fall in years happened in the boys’ 4x100 relay when the Granada Hills team of Jordan Coleman, Dijon Stanley, Kanye Martin and Jayden Smith broke Taft’s 2002 record with a time of 40.68. The Highlanders are the favorite to win a state championship in the event.

“Next week we’re coming out hotter,” Stanley said.

Stanley wanted to set a record in the 400 but fell short, finishing in 46.17. The record of 46.08 stays with David Gettis of Dorsey, a three-time state champion who set the record in 2005.

“It’s my favorite race,” Stanley said. “I felt excellent and I wanted the record but the wind off the backstretch was in my face. I ran smooth and thought I had it but just missed. This gives me more incentive for the state meet.”

Stanley, headed to play football at Utah, is hoping to join Gettis next week as a state champion from the City Section in his final high school appearance. He also won the 200 in 21.14.

“I want everybody to remember me,” Stanley said. “Even though I’m leaving, I’ll be back.”

Yes, Stanley is returning Oct. 21 to play against USC at the Coliseum in a Pac-12 football game.

One of the most heartwarming stories involves Coleman winning the 100 in 10.67. He was hardly on anyone’s list when the track season began. He just got better and better. He finished second in the 200.


“I’m kind of in disbelief,” Coleman said. “When I was younger, I didn’t know I could be this fast.”

The defending state girls’ champion in the 100, Georgia-bound Reign Redmond, led a Carson sweep. She won the 100 in 11.75, with Christian Gray second (12.02) and TaAhjah Fann third (12.08). Redmond also took the 200 in 24.43. Redmond is taking nothing for granted at next week’s state championships in Clovis.

“I’m staying humble because somebody can outwork me,” she said.

For City Section track to return to a high level, schools need to get their best athletes to compete.

Birmingham could have a new high jump star in basketball player Deshawn Banks. He won the City title, clearing 6-6. Not bad for someone just learning the sport.

“I saw him dunk a basketball and his head was above the rim,” track coach Don Boardingham said. “I asked, ‘Can you come out?’ ”

Reign Redmond of Carson leads a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 meters.
(Craig Weston)

Isaac Torres of El Camino Reeal ran a personal-best time of 1:55.47 to win the 800.

Granada Hills won the boys’ team title relying on many players who helped the football team win a Division I championship in the fall. Carson won the girls’ title. Both teams figure to be in competition for state titles, which is a stunning development for the City Section.


“We can’t always [set a personal record],” Coleman said. “We can’t always break records. But today, we can be champions.”

For oldtimers who remember the many Olympians produced from the City Section, Thursday was a good start to perhaps a brighter future.