Prep Rally: Meet Alyssa Thompson, perhaps the best high school athlete in America

Soccer star Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake is ready to make impact running, 100, 200 and 400 in track.
Soccer star Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake is ready to make impact running, 100, 200 and 400 in track and field.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. There might not be a better high school athlete in America than soccer star Alyssa Thompson, a junior at Studio City Harvard-Westlake. After a month playing for the USA U20 women’s soccer team, she was back on campus last Monday being a normal student. And excited to be running for the track team.

Here comes Alyssa

Soccer star Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake is ready to make impact running, 100, 200 and 400 in track and field.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

The smile was worth 1,000 words. Nothing needed to be said. Alyssa Thompson was back going to classes at Harvard-Westlake, hanging out with friends and preparing to join the track team after winning a gold medal starting as a 17-year-old for the USA U20 women’s soccer in the Dominican Republic for the last three weeks.


“I’m excited,” she said of getting the chance to show off her speed this spring in the 100, 200 and 400.

Track coach Jonas Koolsbergen said he believes Thompson would have swept the Division 3 championships in the sprints last year if she had been allowed to participate. But because the soccer championships were taking place on the same day as the prelims, she chose soccer. Harvard-Westlake ended up winning soccer and track championships, but Thompson couldn’t do both because of COVID-19 scheduling changes.

Now she hopes to make up for lost time and there’s no telling how fast she’s going to be able to running after getting into top shape playing for her country. She was the second-youngest player on the team but the fastest, so there should be genuine excitement what she might accomplish this spring.

Speed from the boys

Rodrick Pleasant of Gardena Serra shows off his medals at Arcadia High School during summer track meet.
(Dylan Stewart / PrepCalTrack)

If you like speed, Southern California is the place to be this spring. The number of high school runners capable of causing coaches to shout “Wow!” while holding up their stopwatches continues to grow.

Last weekend at Redondo Union, the wind was blowing hard, and junior Jaelon Barbarin of Simi Valley ran a wind-aided 10.37 seconds to edge Max Thomas of Anaheim Servite in the 100 meters. Wind or not, that’s a crazy time for this early in the track and field season.


“I don’t think we’ve seen this much speed this early in a long time,” said Rich Gonzalez of

The fastest of all is football standout Rodrick Pleasant of Gardena Serra. He ran 10.32 seconds last season and made his season debut on Wednesday in a relay. This coming week he’s headed to Texas for a sprint debut. All the top athletes are pointing toward the Arcadia Invitational on April 9 at Arcadia High.

Here’s a profile on Pleasant.

Basketball all-star teams

Centennial guard Donovan Dent is fouled at the rim by Modesto Christian’s BJ Davis and Drevon Johnson.
MARCH 12, 2022: Corona Centennial guard Donovan Dent is fouled at the rim by Modesto Christian’s BJ Davis and Drevon Johnson in the Open Division state championship game Saturday night. Steve Galluzzo / For The Times
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

The Times’ all-star boys and girls basketball teams have been released.

Donovan Dent of Corona Centennial is boys’ player of the year. Juju Watkins of Sierra Canyon is the girls’ player of the year. Dave Galley of Venice is the boys coach of the year. Stan Delus of Etiwanda is the girls’ coach of the year.

Here’s the link to complete teams and final rankings.

Windward makes big hire

Jerica Williams is the new girls' basketball coach at Windward.

One of the best girls’ basketball coaching jobs in the nation has been filled. Former UCLA and San Diego State women’s basketball player Jerica Williams is the new girls’ basketball coach at Windward. She replaces Vanessa Nygaard, who left to become head coach of he WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

She has 11 years of college and high school coaching experience. She last directed Detroit Country Day during the 2020-21 season.


Isaiah Magdaleno of Crespi, a junior committed to Hawaii, has been one of the best pitchers with a 3-0 record.

The Hawaii baseball coaching staff is looking like geniuses based on the early season pitching of junior Isaiah Magdaleno of Crespi, who committed to the Rainbows early in 2022.

He’s 3-0 and threw a shutout last week against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, striking out nine.

Coach Mike Glendenning said Magdaleno has better command of his pitches, which Notre Dame found out. He mixed his fastball with his off-speed stuff and kept the Knights off balance throughout.

Santa Margarita (12-0) has come out surging, including a three-game sweep of JSerra last week in Trinity League play. The Eagles have served notice they are a legitimate challenger to Orange Lutheran. Stanford commit Luke Lavin has 20 hits and a .541 batting average.

Another unbeaten team is Sierra Canyon (14-0). The latest win came on Saturday against Simi Valley. Kassius Thomas struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings. Max Martin has become a big-time closer. He also hit a two-run home run in the seventh to help Sierra Canyon rally from a 2-1 deficit to win 6-2.

When it comes to hot hitters, Andrew Citron of Harvard-Westlake is on fire. He has 16 hits in 34 at-bats. He’s committed to Georgetown.

Palisades has outscored its last four opponents 37-2. The Dolphins are 5-1-1 and could be a City Section Final Four contender.

The City Section earned some respect when Birmingham and Granada Hills knocked off Chaminade and Newbury Park, respectively.

The Southern Section sitout period ends on Tuesday. JSerra will get an immediate boost from Santa Margarita transfer Trent Caraway.

Here’s this week’s top 25 baseball rankings from The Times.


Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Los Angeles Times subscriber.

Big-time QB transfer

Warren quarterback Nicholaus Iamaleava is transferring to Long Beach Poly.
(Luca Evans / For The Times)

It might be time to add Long Beach Poly back into the conversation of Southern California’s top football schools after quarterback Nicholaus Iamaleava’s family told that he is transferring from Downey Warren High to Poly.

The 6-foot-6 Iamaleava is considered one of the top college prospects from the class of 2023. Poly returns numerous starters from a Southern Section Division 4 championship team.

“Nico is a difference maker,” Warren coach Kevin Pearson said.

The big question is what happens to the heir apparent at Poly, junior to be Darius Curry, who transferred to Poly last season from Playa del Rey St. Bernard and then was injured.

The annual transferring of quarterbacks is just beginning to pick up momentum as spring practice approaches. In January, the football community was talking about Iamaleava transferring to Mission Hills Bishop Alemany. Potential transfers were hesitant to transfer to Alemany because of that rumor. This announcement could lead to more player movement.


Azusa Pacific will be the site on Saturday for the Meet of Champions High School Distance Classic. There will be more than 2,000 runners competing, but the big races begin at 6:30 p.m. with Newbury Park distance stars scheduled to participate.

Colin and Aaron Salman are entered in the 800, Leo and Lex Young will try to break 4:00 in the mile and there will be lots of athletes breaking nine minutes in the 3,200.


In the girls’ competition, Ventura freshman star Sadie Englehardt will do battle with Gatorade state cross-country runner of the year Dalia Frias of Mira Costa.

Servite’s Max Thomas keeps raising the bar in the sprints. He ran a wind legal 10.55 in the 100 meters on Saturday to set a meet record at Laguna Beach and set another meet record in winning the 200 in 21.59. He’s supposed to focus on the 400 this spring but is running the 100 so well maybe he’ll pull a Michael Norman and compete in the 100 later in the year.

Rayshon Luke of St. John Bosco returned to running track by running a 10.61 100. Chase Farrell of Oaks Christian turned a 10.51 100. Both are football standouts.


Micaela Kastor (left), Rylee McCoy, I'lovea Brittingham and Justine Lamber have led Oaks Christian to 10-0 start.
Micaela Kastor (left), Rylee McCoy, I’lovea Brittingham and Justine Lamber have led Oaks Christian to 10-0 start.
(Oaks Christian)

Oaks Christian has started the season with 11 consecutive victories to climb to No. 2 in this week’s Southern California high school softball rankings.

Here’s the link to the latest rankings.

Oaks Christian had a big week routing Westlake, El Camino Real and Thousand Oaks in games. Rylee McCoy pulled off a first in school history: _ going eight for 10 with five home runs and nine RBIs.



Loyola's Ryan Sprague (9) and Ryan Vena battle for the ball vs. Mira Costa's Akeakamai Gealon above the net on March 19, 2022
(Brody Hannon)

Dillon Klein still thinks about the loss every day. Every. Single. Day.

The moment replays in the Los Angeles Loyola High volleyball star’s head, sitting with his team in the locker room after falling to rival Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in last year’s regional championships.

“Damn, we couldn’t do it for you guys,” Klein thought, realizing it’d be the last time he’d get to play with his senior buddies.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that,” said Klein, who is now a senior outside hitter. “I guarantee I’ll tell my kids that story.”

Nine months later, the loss still cuts deep, and it had Klein and the Cubs circling a Saturday showdown rematch with Mira Costa on their calendars.

“Just want to get out there and kick some butt,” Klein said.

This year’s Mustangs are a completely different team, trying to rebuild after 18 seniors graduated from the previous year’s championship squad. With a 25-23, 25-19, 25-17 sweep of Mira Costa, Loyola earned a measure of revenge on its home court.


Here’s a report.


Mater Dei and St. Margaret’s, the top two boys’ lacrosse teams, engaged in quite a showdown on Saturday. It went to triple overtime before Mater Dei prevailed 9-8.

Notes . . .

Amari Bailey from Sierra Canyon and Gabriela Jaquez from Camarillo were selected for the Jordan Brand all-star game on April 15 in Chicago. . . .

Jared McCain of Corona Centennial was selected the Gatorade state player of the year in boys’ basketball. He’s only a junior. On Friday, he announced he was committed to Duke. . . .

Former Wyoming offensive line coach Sam Gooding is the new offensive coordinator at Servite . . . .

Jake Goossen-Brown, who was the offensive line coach at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame until leaving to become a successful head coach at Morro Bay, is returning to become a teacher and offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. . . .


Former Crespi quarter Bryan Bennett has returned to his alma mater to become offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. . . .

Christian Dearborn has resigned as football coach at Royal. . . .

All-league receiver Edward Schultz has transferred from JSerra to Mission Viejo. He’ll be a senior in the fall. . . .

After 25 years as basketball coach at Thousand Oaks, Rich Endres told the Ventura County Star he has been fired. . . .

Standout Culver City receiver Ethan Harris has transferred to Leuzinger. . . .

From the archives: Quincy Watts

Quincy Watts in a 2012 interview.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

The track and field coach at USC, Quincy Watts, is a legend in City Section history from his days at Taft High, where he ran track and also dabbled in basketball.

He was a dominant sprinter at Taft, went on to USC and became a gold medalist in the 400 at the 1992 Olympic Games.

Here’s a story from 2002 about Watts getting into coaching.

Here’s a story from 1986 when Watts’ talent was just coming forward.



From the Newhall Signal, a story on former Hart and Stanford receiver Trenton Irwin of the Cincinnati Bengals hosting his first youth camp.

From, a story on how UCLA-bound basketball recruit Kiki Rice found out she was the Gatorade national player of the year.

From, a story on the firing of long-time Thousand Oaks basketball coach Richard Endres.

Tweets you might have missed


Until next time...

Have a question, comment or something you’d like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

Did you get this newsletter forwarded to you? To sign up and get it in your inbox, click here.