Jordan Coleman puts on a show in the 100 meters at the City Section preliminaries

If the preliminaries are any indication, Jordan Coleman will be one to watch in next Friday’s City Section track and field championships at El Camino College.

The Granada Hills High senior cruised to a wind-aided time of 10.51 seconds for the fastest mark in the 100-meter dash, well off his personal-best of 10.36 which came last year at the Arcadia Invitational, but easily the best across four heats on Friday. The next fastest qualifier was Antrell Harris of Birmingham, who recorded a wind-legal 10.83.

“I could’ve started a little better, but I didn’t have any expectations today,” Coleman sad. “I’ve been dropping times every week and I feel confident about next week.”

He opened the meet running the second leg on the Highlanders’ 4×100 relay, which had the fastest qualifying time at 42.02. Heat 3 winner Carson (42.27) was second and Heat 2 winner Birmingham (42.58) took third. Coleman also ran the second leg when Granada Hills took first in the 4×100 relay in 40.85 at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 20.

Coleman had enough in reserve to post the fastest qualifying time in the 200, which will be one of the most anticipated events at the finals. Coleman won his heat in 21.32, but challenging him will be Nathan Santa Cruz of Venice (who won the fourth heat in 22.14), Heat 2 winner Harris (21.83) and Coleman’s teammate Justin Hart, who won the third heat in 21.92.

To cap off a busy afternoon, Coleman ran the first leg of the 4×400 relay in which the Highlanders took third in 3:29.61 behind Dorsey (3:28.17) and Palisades (3:28.68).

Earlier in the day, Santa Cruz, a junior, was the top qualifier in the 400 meters (49.08), nearly a second faster than Roni Sherertz of Palisades. Nine months after brain surgery from a football injury, Santa Cruz ran the anchor leg in the 4×400 relay to help his team take second at last year’s finals.

“I feel like I can do better,” said Santa Cruz, who clocked a wind-aided personal record of 48.8 during a nonleague meet three weeks ago. “I’m stronger in this [the 400], but I like the 200 also. If I just do what I trained to do and stay calm I’ll have a good chance next week.”

Santa Cruz used to have a tendency to slow late in races but now considers his finishing kick to be one of his strongest assets.

“The ending used to be the weakest part, but I’ve been working on that a lot,” he said. “The thing I need to do is get out a little faster.”

Reigning City Division I cross country champion Joseph Vargas of Cleveland (4:28.74) was the fastest qualifier in the 1,600 and fellow senior Alec Flores (4:30.86) of Granada Hills was second. Flores (1:58.95) led all qualifiers in the 800 and the top three seeds in the 3,200 final all represent Palisades: Max Fields, Blake Sigworth and Axel Mammen.

On the girls’ side, Carson dominated the sprints, as expected. The Colts’ foursome (Taylor Johnson, Christina Gray and sisters Tiffany and Kaitlyn Williams) had the fastest time of the day (46.50) in the 4×100. Gray (11.86) and Kaitlyn Williams (12.07) had the fastest times in the 100 and Gray (24.85) and Kaitlyn Williams (25.04) won their heats and were second and third in the 200 behind Deauna Louis of Girls Academic Leadership Academy (24.75).

Carson won its heat in the 4×400 relay in 4:05.98, second only to Granada Hills (4:03.99), and Gray will add to Carson’s points total in the long jump next week after qualifying first with a 17-10¼ effort. Carson’s Jaya Westby was the leading qualifier in the girls’ 300 hurdles in 47.18 and third in the 100 hurdles (17.25) after Louis (14.82) and Nancy Javkhlan (16.20) of Granada Hills.

Palisades showed depth and should challenge reigning champion Carson for the girls team crown.

Freshman Zoey Morris, the defending City Division I cross country champion, won the first heat in the 1,600 in 5:19.75 and was second overall, 6.25 seconds behind senior Angelina Valladares of Canoga Park. Morris also boasts the fastest seeding time in the 3,200 while Palisades teammate Gabriella Gilyard has the third-best time going into finals.

Sophomore Annabelle Refnes clocked the fastest time in the 800; Mikayla Murphy was fourth in the 100 (12.21 seconds); and the Dolphins’ 4×800 relay qualified first overall in 9:55.28, more than seven seconds ahead of Canoga Park.

The clear frontrunner in the boys’ long jump is Carson junior Jerald Martin Evangelista, who needed only one leap to post the best qualifying mark at 22 feet, 3½ inches. The closest anyone else got to him was El Camino Real senior Mekhi Celifie at 21-11¾.

“I really just wanted to advance to the next round and I was even behind the board a little bit, so it’s a strong qualifying mark,” said Martin Evangelista, who achieved a personal-best 23-7¾ at Mt. SAC. “Last year I was more of a sprinter first and getting used to my steps landing mark. I feel good, I just need to bring the same steps and mentality [at finals].”

Martin Evangelista also posted the second-best mark in the triple jump (42-10½) behind Dorsey junior Caleb Asco (43-5½).

Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks is the City favorite in the high jump after winning the event at Arcadia and Mt. SAC earlier this spring. Venice sophomore Lawrence Kensinger is the one to beat in the shot put with a mark of 53-1¾.

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