Notre Dame sprinter cements spot as a favorite heading into state

Facing loaded fields in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame wanted to give his competition something to think about heading into next week’s state track and field championships.

The Knights’ junior sprinter did just that — winning both events in Friday night’s CIF Southern Section Masters Meet at Cerritos College and positioning himself as one of the favorites after also doubling at the Southern Section Division 3 finals the week before.

First, Muhammad ran the 100 in 10.51 seconds, beating San Clemente’s Herbert Gamboa by eight-hundredths of a second. Muhammad then took the 200 in 21.10 — 37-hundredths of a second ahead of runner-up Morgan Simon from Los Angeles Loyola.

Muhammad was second in the state in the 100 last year but was disappointed in his time Friday in cold and windy conditions.

“I came in prepared and my acceleration was good, but I didn’t really explode at the start like I wanted to,” he said. “This is my race so I just gotta to put it all together next week. I know I can run better than this.

In the first race of the meet, Muhammad found himself locked in a stretch duel with Oxnard Rio Mesa’s Cameron Roach on the anchor leg of the 400. Roach was staked to a slim lead by Spartans teammates Jordan Nunnery, Blake Selig and Darion Zimmerman and held off Muhammad by six-hundredths of a seconds in 40.95.

“He’s a great sprinter,” Roach said of Muhammad. “I was telling myself to relax and get to the line. We were trying to go under 40, but this is our best time of the year and gives us a lot of confidence.”

Long Beach Poly sophomore Ariana Washington achieved a double of her own in the girls 100 and 200. Washington won the 100 in 11.61 and the 200 in 23.55. Senior teammate Traci Hicks won the girls’ 100 hurdles in 13.66 seconds, edging Rancho Cucamonga’s Jordi Munford by 16-hundredths of a second, but Munford came back to take the 300 hurdles in 41.86.

Hicks ran the second leg and Washington the anchor on the Jackrabbits’ 400 relay team, which finished in 45.72 to edge Gardena Serra (46.21).

In a race that featured four of the top six girls in California, Renetia James of Gardena Serra clocked a state-leading 54.41 to win the girls’ 400 and Southern Section Division 3 winner Alex Rohani of Beverly Hills surged from behind to win the boys’ 400 in 47.87.

Simi Valley sophomore Sarah Baxter clocked 10:08.75 to win the girls’ 3,200 for the second straight time. Laura Hollander of Huntington Beach Marina was second in 10:17.28 as 11 runners qualified for the state meet. Senior Danny Martinez of Bellflower St. John Bosco won the boys’ 3,200 in 9:04.25.

Margaux Jones, a freshman at Redlands, leaped 19 feet, four and a half inches to win the girls’ long jump and will be joined at the state meet by her brother Walter, a junior, who qualified in two events for the Terriers — taking second in the long jump (23-6.25) and fourth in the triple jump (47-1.75).

Dominique Wheatley of La Verne Bonita was attempting to qualify for the state meet in three field events — the long jump, triple jump and high jump. The Bearcats sophomore finished fourth in the triple jump to earn an automatic berth, but missed the marks in the high jump and long jump.

After finishing second to Rio Mesa at the Division 3 finals last week, West Hills Chaminade took the boys’ 4x400 relay in a blazing 3:15.28, paced by Isaiah Bernard, Jared Dinowitz, Elijah Dunston and Terrell Newby. Gardena Serra won the girls’ race in 3:46.83 thanks to a 53.3 anchor leg by Chimere Ezumah.

Studio City Harvard-Westlake was second in the 1,600 in 3:47.19 led by Stanford-bound seniors Amy Weissenbach and Cami Chapus.

The Wolverines’ top runners also won their individual events. In the 1,600, Chapus took the early lead and was never challenged, coasting to win by almost six seconds in 4:43.90. Weissenbach, who won the state 800 title last spring in a national-record time of 2:02.04, won Friday’s race in 2:05.55.

“I was hoping to go faster, but the wind was distracting, and I tightened up in the last 100 meters, but my fitness was there,” Weissenbach said. “My goal was to get closer to two minutes. I’d like to break two minutes before I’m done.”