Six Valley athletes will be competing at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at El Camino College on Saturday.
Three athletes won CIF-SS titles in the division finals last Saturday.
Quartz Hill’s Iman Babineaux won the Division 1 girls 400-meter dash with a time of 54.81 seconds, while Paraclete’s Brianna Smith won the Division 4 girls 300-meter hurdles (45.69) and Mojave’s Rae’kwon Alvez won the Division 4 boys high jump, clearing 6-feet, 4-inches.
Babineaux and teammates Janae O’Neal, Sarah Collier and Angela Rubio qualified for Masters in the Division 1 girls 4x400 relay, finishing fifth, while O’Neal also qualified in the Division 1 girls 100 meters, taking fifth, and Highland’s Ben Sumner also qualified for Masters with a sixth-place finish in the Division 1 boys 800 meters.
It was Babineaux’s first CIF title and her school’s first CIF champion since Shamaya Flanagan, who now runs at UC Irvine, in 2016.
“It felt really cool,” Babineaux, a junior, said about winning the title. “It was nice to win, because all of the training that I’ve been doing is starting to pay off. God willing, hopefully I can do the same at Masters and just make it to state as well.”
The race was a close one for Babineaux as the second-place finisher, Millikan’s Samarra Monrroy finished .06 second behind her at 54.87.
“The race was difficult, because I know all the girls there are really good, because they did the same training and worked just as hard,” Babineaux said. “I battled with the girl in the lane next to me. It was a really close race.”
Babineaux’s time in the 400 is the top time out of nine participants at Masters.
Smith, a senior, also won her first CIF title after making it to the finals all four years of high school.
“It was pretty exciting,” she said. “I’ve been working on it since freshman year and it was nice to win it for my last high school race.”
Her time of 45.69 was a personal-best. She was battling a couple of different girls throughout the race.
“At the beginning, I was worried about the two girls behind me in lanes four and five,” Smith said. “They passed me on the curve. I was patient with it, so I overtook them at the end.”
Unfortunately, Smith’s time was the 10th overall time in all four divisions and they only took the top nine.
She also finished third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.27.
“That didn’t go as well as I wanted it to,” Smith said. “My PR is 15.13 and I got 15.27. I wanted to break 14, but I wasn’t really holding my form over the hurdles as well as I wanted to, so time started adding up between the hurdles and that’s what really got me.”
Winning a CIF title in her final season also mean’s more to Smith, because she doesn’t know if she’ll continue to run in college. She said she’s thankful to her dad, Terrell Smith, for coaching her to this point.
“I couldn’t have really gotten to where I am right now if it weren’t for my dad, because he’s also my coach,” she said. “I’m thankful for him.”
Alvez, a junior, was very pleased with how well he jumped in the high jump last Saturday. He originally wasn’t on the list for Masters Meet, but was told on Thursday morning that he made it because he cleared 6-04 with no scratches.
“Honestly I jumped better than I usually did this whole year,” Alvez said. “Throughout the whole year I didn’t really have any competition going into prelims and all that because most of the jumpers stopped at 5-10. I just settled with 6-foot for the whole season. Then, when I got there, I jumped to 6-04 with no scratches and I was really happy with what I was doing.
“At 6-06, I could have cleared it with no scratches, but I hit my head. I arched too fast. I’m still glad I qualified for Masters.”
Alvez was also told that he will have his own banner hanging in the Mojave gym for being a CIF champion.
“So, that’s one achievement I have,” he said.
Alvez also finished fourth in the triple jump with a personal-best 42-01.00.
“I messed up my knee in triple jump,” he said. “I didn’t finish all my jumps, but I got fourth so I was happy with that.”
He said he plans on using Icy Hot and KT tape for his knee at the Masters Meet. He’s hoping to do well there to reach the State Championships.
“I just want to place in the top six,” Alvez said. “If I make it to state, that would be one of my biggest achievements. … All I’ve got to do is at least jump 6-06 with no scratches and I’ll be fine.”
Sumner broke the Highland school record in the 800 with a time of 1:53.18. The old school record was somewhere above 1:54.
“Very exciting,” Sumner said. “It hurt. It was hot and you definitely feel it. I definitely went out a little too fast. I ran a 52 first lap, which is 3-4 seconds faster than I wanted to do. But coming around, I was like, ‘You know what, might as well just go for it right here.’ It was a really fun race. It was exciting.”
Sumner, a senior, finished sixth and was pleased to qualify for Masters.
“I got to move on. It was my best race time-wise, but definitely not my best race methodically,” he said. “I can definitely get out and run a better race.”
It will be his first time to the Masters Meet in just his second year competing in track. He played baseball his whole life up until last season. His coach told him to join track to work on his speed, so he did.
“I just instantly saw a future in it,” Sumner said. “I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to run track now.’ Ever since then, just been running.”
Now he’s one of the top runners in the 800 in the CIF-Southern Section. He said he’s looking forward to Masters, where he is seeded sixth.
“Very excited. Nervous and excited,” Sumner said.
O’Neal ran a 12.20 to finish fifth in the 100. She has the ninth-fastest time heading into Masters.
The Quartz Hill girls 4x400 relay team has qualified for state for the past two seasons and they’re hoping to do it again. The Rebels finished fifth with a season-best time of 3:51.46.
“I’m still really happy that we made it, but I think we can drop a few seconds or a tenth of a second off our time, because we have been working hard,” Babineaux said. “So, hopefully we can come back and also make it to state in that. That would be really cool.
We ran a good race, too, because it’s a season PR.”
Collier finished seventh in the Division 1 girls 800 (2:18.15), while Highland’s Daniel Rodriguez was ninth in the Division 1 boys 1600 meters (4:26.60).
In Division 2, Eastside’s Xavier Tatham took eighth in the boys discus with a throw of 142-feet, 6-inches.
In Division 3, Antelope Valley’s Jalen Gray was fifth in the boys long jump (21-03), while Samarea Johnson finished eighth in the girls long jump (16-07.75).
In Division 4, Paraclete’s Alan Rennie finished second in the boys shot put (49-06.50) and fourth in the discus (143-09), while Vasquez’s Isaiah Calvin took fifth in the shot put (45-10.50) and second in the discus (146-03).
Paraclete’s Jaren Johnson finished fourth in the boys high jump (6-00) and eighth in the long jump (19-04), while Desert Christian’s Ethan Laubach took third in the boys 3200 (9:47.46).