Saturday's boys 3,200 meters featuring South Pasadena's Sam Pons and Arcadia's Ammar Moussa headlines the 44th Arcadia Invitational.
It is that time of year when some of the best high school track and field athletes travel to the San Gabriel Valley for the Arcadia Invitational.
The 44th edition of the meet will take place Friday and Saturday at Arcadia High School, and elite athletes from all over the nation are expected to take part in the meet. In its storied history, the Arcadia Invitational has witnessed 24 national records and 125 U.S. Olympians.
The meet begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. It continues Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. with the open events. The invitational portion of the meet, which features all of the top athletes, begins at 5:25 p.m.
One of the most anticipated races Saturday night will feature one of the greatest rivalries ever in the San Gabriel Valley as Arcadia’s Ammar Moussa and South Pasadena’s Sam Pons will battle it out over eight laps of the track in the invitational boys’ 3,200 meters. The race is scheduled to begin at approximately 9:02 p.m.
Both were among the elite 16 runners who clocked better than 9 minutes at last year’s meet.
They both recently competed in an open 5,000-meter event in which Moussa ran his race in 14 minutes, 13 second and Pons followed close behind at 14:16. This suggests both should have little trouble running under 9 minutes once again.
“I know they have a rivalry,” Arcadia Invitational Meet Director Rich Gonzalez said. “Sam hasn’t been racing recently. He’s been focusing on training for this race. Ammar is very fit after racing in the World Junior Cross Country Championships.”
The boys’ 100 meters should be a great one as the top two finishers in the state last year return.
Covina’s Remontay McClain and Gardena Serra’s George Farmer both finished in 10.45 seconds last year with McClain being declared the winner.
Farmer, who is headed to Southern California on a football scholarship, missed much of the track season last year as he also played on Serra’s state championship-winning basketball team.
This season Serra did not participate in the CIF basketball playoffs, giving the future Trojan wide receiver more time to prepare for track.
Kasen Williams, who attends Skyline of Washington and is headed to the University of Washington on a football scholarship, is one of the nation’s best in the field events. A wide receiver like Farmer, Williams has high jumped 6 feet 11 inches, long jumped more than 24 feet and triple jumped more than 49 feet. Williams was the Parade All-America National Player of the Year in football this past year.
Oklahoma’s Gunnar Nixon, the top decathlete in the nation, will attempt to become the first athlete to score 8,000 points in the two-day event that will take place Thursday and Friday.
A key event on Friday is the boys’ 4x1,600-meter relay. Moussa is expected to anchor for Arcadia. Loyola of Los Angeles is expected to anchor with Elias Gedyon, who could break 4 minutes in the 1,600 this season. The race is scheduled to begin at approximately 7:54 p.m.
Maddie Meyers of Washington is the defending champion in the girls’ 1,600, which Gonzalez said is a deep field.
The girls’ relay events should also be very strong as national power Long Beach Poly is led by Akawkaw Ndipagbor, who is expected to run in the 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays.
Check out a rundown of local competitors:
To Moussa and Pons, several other locals will be taking part in the meet.
St. Francis junior James Knowles is scheduled to run in the seeded 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter hurdles on Saturday morning. South Pasadena’s Blake Parson is also scheduled to run in the 300 hurdles event.
Monrovia’s Michael Harris is scheduled to compete in the long jump on Friday night and South Pasadena’s Sean Nang is slated for the boys’ triple jump on Friday.
Crescenta Valley’s Andrew Roide is expected to compete in the boys’ high jump on Saturday afternoon.
Monrovia will have a girls’ 4x200-meter relay team competing in the rated race on Friday evening. The group comes back Saturday morning for the 4x100-meter seeded preliminaries with a chance to qualify for the invitational portion of the meet later in the evening.
Skylar Buchanan, Kia Smith and Jasmine Thomas are slated to run in both events. Marissa Black is expected to join the trio in the 4x100 and Jenny Pfau for the 4x200.
Flintridge Sacred Heart has several relay teams that have been accepted to compete in the Invitational.
The Tologs will send 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. They will compete with Monrovia and South Pasadena on Saturday morning in the shorter of the two relays with a chance at a spot in the invitational portion of the meet later in the evening.
Noelle Niederhaus, Daelyn Moon, Stephanie Vargas and Drew Washington are expected to make up both relays.
The Tologs will also send a 4x800-meter relay team for the seeded race, the very first event on Friday afternoon. Vargas, Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Amanda Aguilar and Rebecca Armstrong are slated to compete in the event.
For the Tigers, Camille Sutton, Kamia Rodil-Willis, Samantha Amido and Stacy Lee are expected to run in the 4x100. South Pasadena will also have a girls’ 4x400 in the open portion of the meet Saturday afternoon.
Rodil-Willis, Claire Kieffer-Wright, Jessica Moog and Laura Anuakpado are expected to run the four legs for their school.
San Marino’s Omhunique Browne will run in the girls’ seeded 100-meter dash on Saturday afternoon, with an opportunity to get a second chance later that evening in the Invitational.
The host Apaches will have a number of relay teams in the meet.
Arcadia will have a 4x100 in the seeded preliminaries. They also have a 4x400, a 1,600-sprint medley relay, a distance medley and three 4x1,600 relay teams, including two in the invitational portion of the meet.
Moussa, Sergio Gonzalez, Ryan Vargas and Eric Garibay are expected to compete on the Apaches’ top team in the 4x1,600 relay.
Vargas and Gonzalez are slated to run the in the open mile. Garibay is slated to run in the open 3,200. Ismail Naeem will compete in the open triple jump.
The Apache girls will have 4x100, 4x800, a 1,600-sprint medley and a 4x1,600 relay teams.
Hayley Greep is expected to compete in the girls open long jump. Glindyll Mancia and Miranda Stiver are set to run in the open 800.