2013: Track Season Heats up at Arcadia Invitational

“Arcadia is the big one,” says Steve Brand.  “It’s the first real indicator of what to expect in the important, late-season meets in May and June.”

The Arcadia Invitational track meet at Arcadia High, east of Pasadena, begins this evening and by around 10 p.m. Saturday, April 6, more than 4,000 high school athletes will have trod its all-weather track and modern runways and pits.

Those that came before include 152 Olympians, many of whom were involved in the 25 national records that have been set in what has become the largest outdoor high school meet in the country.

“The elite compete Saturday afternoon,” said Brand.  “The elite of the elite compete Saturday evening,”

Brand should know.  He has covered almost every one for The San Diego Union and UT-San Diego since the first in 1968 and no one has a better  pulse of the area prep track scene.

Henderson went on to be two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Henderson went on to be two-time Olympic gold medalist.

The area’s outstanding track heritage is reflected in the three meet records  held by San Diego athletes, not to mention state-leading performances and all-time County efforts.

Monique Henderson set the girls’ 400-meter record of :52.51 in 2001.  Brent Noon of Fallbrook hurled the 12-pound  shot  71 feet, 4 ¼ inches in 1990, and Thom Hunt of Patrick Henry ran 3,200 meters in 8:42.30 in 1976.

No one has made those kinds of early impressions this spring and Brand describes the 2013 San Diego Section season thus far as “not very strong,” but he added that “someone always come out of the weeds at Arcadia.”

West Hills’ Brenden Song is the San Diego section’s lone state leader with a 188-foot discus throw.  Song was second in the state meet in Clovis in 2012 with a heave of 188-11, Section No. 11 all time.

Arcadia and its importance as a “coming out” meet of the season is symptomatic of the decline of dual meets, once the anchor of  prep track.

League dual meet champions are still decided but they receive almost no mention in daily newspapers.  Marks usually are available only in on-line services.

“There’s an invitational meet every weekend this year,” said Brand.  “I’ve seen some dramatic dual meets over the years, fans and students screaming as a meet came down to who wins the relay, but that’s not the way of the world now.”

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4 Responses to 2013: Track Season Heats up at Arcadia Invitational

  1. Jon Vivian says:

    Did Gail Devers ever compete in the above mentioned meet?

    • Rick says:

      Before I forget. In the comment below the high jumper from Lincoln was Art Cooper. His brother Del ran a few years before. Yes, Gail Devers ran at Arcadia. I’m sure at one time she held a meet record in the 100, 100 hurdles, or long jump. Somewhat obscure Gail Devers stat: As a freshman in 1982 she was known as Yolanda Devers when she won the San Diego Section 800 in 2:11.07, which still ranks locally in the all-time Top 10.

  2. Jon Vivian says:

    I still remember those meet deciding relays as a 5th and 6th grader watching my brother and his teammates at Patrick Henry in the early ’70’s. More than one of them ended in a riot.

    • Rick says:

      My car was stoned as I was hastily leaving Lincoln in 1960 after a scorching San Diego-Lincoln dual meet, which the Hornets won when Ed Goodman held off Benny Lewis on the anchor leg of the 880 relay. Goodman’s teammates carried him off the field. I don’t think anything compares to the Eastern League afternoon finals in 1973 or ’74, when a thug was brandishing a bullwhip on the Balboa Stadium infield. Lincoln and Patrick Henry had a great dual meet in ’71. They tied, 59-59. Lincoln’s Donald Tyler, a sub-48-second quartermiler could not walk down Patrick Henry’s Jim Howe on the final lap of the mile relay. The time was 3:24.6, not that great, but it was early season. Henry later went under 3:20. My all-time favorite dual meet was another involving Lincoln, which beat Hoover by winning the relay, amid a howling throng of athletes from both teams. Harold Moore of Lincoln was staked to a five or six-yard edge on Pierre Frazier, who almost caught Moore. Lincoln came from a 50-49 deficit entering the final event and won 54-50. Hoover’s Eddie Hanks won the high jump at a stunning 6-9 3/4. His teammate, first name Lyle or Lynn, Hull, cleared 6-6 and Lincoln’s Del Cooper was third at 6-4. This was before advent of Fosbury flop technique. Pierre, a virtual unknown before that day, won the 100 in :09.7, the 180 lowsk in 20 seconds, and took the long jump at 22-11. Helix and Grossmont had sone barnburner dual meets in the ‘sixties. And one from very long ago sticks out. Hoover beat San Diego for the first time, 63-58, in 1938 by winning the 880 relay in a then-fast 1:30.7. San Diego that year was the team champion in the state meet.

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