Tony’s Take: No Time To Be Messin' Around In California

California is the Golden State. Ty Moss of Neuqua Valley is the 'Golden Child' (Colin Boyle photo)

The prevailing theme for the small Illinois contingent traveling to California is pretty much the same... "go out and do my best." OKAY. But the truth of the matter is pundits, onlookers, skeptics, fans, whomever are going to be watching closely and expecting much more than that. I will come back and expand on this angle.

The climes are expected to be gorgeous this weekend in Arcadia. The low 70 degree temps during the day make for low to mid 60s during the evening and early night cap. It will feel like heaven for many of Illinois' contingent.


Arcadia Invitational is Numero Uno-

Let's put the Arcadia Invitational in its proper perspective real quick. For those out there that don't know, it is the largest and most prestigious high school only track and field invitational in the country. The moniker that meet director and my friend Rich Gonzalez once told me, "Tony, Arcadia is the 'Home of National Records.'" To be specific Arcadia (which is approximately 15 NW of Los Angeles) has produced 24 national records. In addition there have been over 150 athletes who moved on to become Olympians!

Check out these meet records:


100 Meters Jamere Holland (Taft, Woodland Hills, CA) 10.36 2006

200 Meters Henry Thomas (Hawthorne, CA) 20.79 1985

400 Meters Bryshon Nellum (Poly, Long Beach, CA) 46.02 2007

800 Meters Michael Granville (Bell Gardens, CA) 1:47.96 1995

1600 Meters Alan Webb (South Lakes, Reston, VA) 3:59.51c 2001 (4:01.81 Mile)

3200 Meters Thom Hunt (Patrick Henry, San Diego, CA) 8:42.30 1976

5000 Meters Chris Derrick (Neuqua Valley, IL) 13:55.96 2008

110 Meter High Hurdles Johnathan Cabral (Agoura, Agoura Hills, CA) 13.43 2011

300 Meter Intermediate Hurdles David Klech (California, San Ramon, CA) 35.45 2006

4x100 Meter Relay Muir, Pasadena, CA 40.28 1997

4x200 Meter Relay Serra, Gardena, CA 1:25.84 2010

4x400 Meter Relay Muir, Pasadena, CA 3:08.92 1996

4x800 Meter Relay L.B. Poly, Long Beach, CA 7:42.36 2003

4x1600 Meter Relay Loyola, Los Angeles, CA 17:12.23 2012

800m Sprint Medley Poly, Long Beach, CA 1:28.43 2007

1600m Sprint Medley Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley, CA 3:26.60 2008

Distance Medley Relay Atlantic Community, Del Ray Beach, FL 9:57.88 2001

4x110 Shuttle Hurdles Relay Brophy Prep, Phoenix, AZ 59.28 2007

High Jump Mike Morrison (Willingboro, NJ) 7-03.00 2003

Pole Vault Nico Weiler (Los Gatos, CA) 17-04 2008

Long Jump Dion Bentley (Penn Hills, Pittsburgh, PA) 25-03.75 1989

Triple Jump Will Claye (Mountain Pointe, Phoenix, AZ) 51-07.50 2009

Shot Put Brent Noon (Fallbrook, CA) 71-04.25 1990

Discus Throw Niklas Arrhenius (Mountain View, Orem UT) 234-03 2001

Decathlon (HS implements) Curtis Beach (Albuquerque, NM) 7,909 2009

Decathlon (International implements) Gunnar Nixon (Santa Fe, Edmond, OK) 7,524 2011 (also 7,577 wind-aided)

Girls meet records:

100 Meters Angela Williams (Chino, CA) 11.32 1998

200 Meters Marion Jones (Rio Mesa, Oxnard, CA) 22.87 1991

400 Meters Monique Henderson (Morse, San Diego, CA) 52.51 2001

800 Meters Heidi Magill (Mountain View, Orem, UT) 2:06.34 2002

1600 Meters Alex Kosinski (Oak Ridge, El Dorado Hills, CA) 4:41.70c 2007

3200 Meters Alexa Efraimson (Camas High School, Camas, WA) 9:55.92 2014

100 Meter High Hurdles Trinity Wilson (St. Mary's, Berkeley, CA) 13.51 2011

300 Meter Intermediate Hurdles Lashinda Demus (Wilson, Long Beach, CA) 40.70 2001

4x100 Meter Relay Poly, Long Beach, CA 44.95 2004

4x200 Meter Relay Poly, Long Beach, CA 1:33.87 2004

4x400 Meter Relay Wilson, Long Beach, CA 3:39.12 2001

4x800 Meter Relay Randolph, New York, NY 8:58.30 2002

4x1600 Meter Relay Saugus, Santa Clarita, CA 20:03.73 2008c

800m Sprint Medley Relay Poly, Long Beach, CA 1:38.73 2003

1600m Sprint Medley Relay West Catholic, Philadelphia, PA 3:59.74 2004

Distance Medley Relay Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood, CA 11:40.89 2011

4x100 Shuttle Hurdles Relay J.W. North, Riverside, CA 57.49 2003

Long Jump Jernae Wright (James Logan, Union City, CA) 20'09.75" 1995

Triple Jump Brittany Daniels (Merrill West, Tracy, CA) 43'05.00" 2005

High Jump Yleana Carrasco (Anaheim, CA) 6'00.00" 1985

Pole Vault Kaitlyn Merritt (Santa Margarita, CA) 13'08"00 2013

Shot Put Kristin Heaston (Ygnacio Valley, Concord, CA) 51'01.50" 1993

Discus Throw Seilala Sua (St. Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, FL) 180'02" 1996

Heptathlon Ashley Smith (Millikan, Long Beach, CA) 5,225 points 2010

In 2011, I had an opportunity to attend Arcadia as part of the media and fan. I remember trying tweet for the first time on a large scale. LOL, it was on a Friday night the famous relays evening and I found myself watching the races intently and forgetting to post out scenarios and results. That's how good the Arcadia Invitational is. Rich G and his staff do a great job in producing the meet and making each kid feel super important.

Back to the Illinois contingent in C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A-

Illinois has a rich history of doing well and putting on solid performances at the Arcadia Invitational. There is no reason to believe this weekend will be any different. Let's take a look at the Prairie State participants that are entered:


Times are in Pacific Time Zone (add 2 hrs to IL)

Event 202 Women 4x800 Meter Relay Invitational (19) Friday 4/10/2015 - 4:44 PM

Yorkville girls must strike while they are fresh and hot and the field is not overly great on paper. This means the competition for Skyler Bollinger (Jr.), Alexis Grandys (So.), Julia Schultz (Jr.), Summer Pierson (Jr.). Bollinger appears to be back running well on the track again. She clocked 2:14.48 at Illinois Top Times in finishing second in an event that she is really good in. The Lady Foxes will need her set up if they hope to run with some of California's best teams. The US and IL#1's should fall in that order after Friday night.

Event 204 Men 4x800 Meter Relay Invitational (24) Friday 4/10/2015 - 5:08 PM

Naperville (Neuqua Valley)- The 2014 Illinois overall state champions will be making a big time debut nationally and I am so proud of Coach Mike Kennedy and his program for making this trek. The contingent of Zac Espinosa (Sr.), Isaiah Robinson (So.), Kyle Bender (Sr.), and Ty Moss (Sr.) definitely belong in a field that features several top 10 heavyweights like Centennial (Las Vegas NV), James Logan (CA), and indoor fave Syosset, NY who finished 5th at the recent New Balance Indoor Nationals with a "John Blazing" 7:46.34 time. So as you can see the Wildcats must be on their "A game." They will have a loaded line up with the "Golden Child" Ty Moss on anchor. Moss will be 100% fresh Friday night and if he gets the baton anywhere within a 3-second deficit, it may be curtains for the competition.

Event 227 Women 4x1600 Meter Relay Invitational (21) Friday 4/10/2015 - 7:48 PM

Yorkville will return some three hours later with Bollinger, Grandys, Schultz, Pierson - ahh finally an Illinois girls distance relay team staying in the pressure cooker. The Lady Foxes must have something up their sleeves in running one of the strongest relays in girls' track and field. Forget the fact that California powers Great Oak and Saugus are entered, this is going to be a race to watch. The meet record is 20:03 by Saugus and it could be in danger. As for Yorkville they could shock themselves and the field. It is my assumption that Skyler will lead off. She has run under 5:00 and with good closing speed like the 2:14.48 800m at the Illinois Top Times, the Foxes are guaranteed to have a positive start. Remember positive starts are the main ingredients to competing and running well as a unit.

Event 230 Men 3200 Meter Run Open 2 (20) Friday 4/10/2015 - 8:54 PM

Connor Horn (Jr., Naperville Neuqua Valley)- Could it be that the 4x8 relay experiment is over? Horn is supposed to be the next one up star. Remember he missed the entire 2013 cross country season due to injury and slowly got up to speed in the latter stages of the 2014 track season. But after a great 2014 fall in which Horn placed 7th, the expectation of great things are once again on the table. I would be pleasantly fulfilled to see a statement made in the 9:17-9:20 range.

Event 231 Men 3200 Meter Run Open 3 (31) Friday 4/10/2015 - 9:06 PM

Blake Evertsen (So., Hinsdale Central)- Guess who won't be running at the Hinsdale Relays on Saturday? The meet entry to Arcadia says so... Blake is making steady progress as the distance runner of interest like many had for him coming into high school. Blake has busted out after a great cross country season to run 4:20/9:29 thus far in 2015. Sam Oh (Sr., Lincolnshire Stevenson) finished right in front of Evertsen at the 2014 state xc championship so it is fitting that his 9:29.41 season best is in line with Evertsen. Perhaps they both will have the presence of mind to race together and push one another to personal bests.

Event 103 Women 1 Mile Run (42) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 10:21 AM

Skyler Bollinger will enter her second day with a bout in the mile and possibly ragged. Not to be negative but don't be surprised if she scratches because of fatigue and perhaps the time warp catching up to her.

Event 104 Men 1 Mile Run Rising Stars (18) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 10:44 AM

Blake Evertsen will run his second race of the weekend. Can he recover on such short notice? We will see.

Event 105 Men 1 Mile Run (35) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 10:51 AM

Connor Horn is another one who may attempt a double back from Friday night. Not many athletes have done it well. I want to see if Horn can do it. This may be a IHSA state run through if you get me.

Event 110 Men 800 Meter Run (48) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 12:52 PM

Jared Borowsky (Jr., Stevenson)- It is kind of strange for me to see a kid who gets in more great meets without the pedigree. You can call it a knock if you want but I know several naysayers who want to see results. If Borowsky runs let's see if he can improve on his lifetime best of 1:58.

Event 111 Women 800 Meter Run (55) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 1:04 PM

Michaela Hackbarth (Jr., Downers Grove South) and Morgan Schulz (Sr., Cary-Grove). Both of these stallions got acquainted with one another during adjoining interviews at the Illinois Top Times. They could be competing friends by the end of the season. However, the journey of just competing is good enough for two girls who were racked by bad injuries last fall. They are now in full swing and progressing nicely. Schulz will stay with the 800 for awhile before adding the 300H. Hackbarth is gaining her full repetoire that includes speed, strength and endurance.

Event 8 Men 1 Mile Run Invitational (14) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 6:04 PM

Ryan Clevenger (Sr., Downers Grove North)- Clev indicated that he is ready for the 3200m but entered this race as well. It appears as if he ready to run two great races.

Event 17 Men 800 Meter Run Invitational (12) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 6:44 PM

Ty Moss. He could be the man that the nation knows come Sunday morning. He will finally meet his prime time match up against the US#1 Connor Ross of McQueen, NV. Ross has run a scorching 1:50.75 at last weekend's Stanford Invitational. Moss' personal best is 1:50.52 from last summer and he rocked an 4x8 anchor 1:51.9 in March. So it will the Moss vs. Ross showdown Saturday evening.

Event 21 Men 400 Meter Dash Seeded (9) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 7:04 PM

Zac Espinosa (Sr., Neuqua Valley)- I think we can see an Illinois prep go under 49 seconds easily if the conditions are right. Espinosa will be competing at Stanford next year so this audition in Cali should be a good one.

Event 29 Men 3200 Meter Run Seeded (31) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 8:06 PM

Graham Brown (Sr., Palatine)- Last year at this Brown was hurt and/or sick. Now he appears to be headed to a great send off season. The four year varsity man has run 9:14.88 indoors and will be making his outdoor debut this weekend. I really think Graham could hit his personal best.

Maya Neal is a key figure to watch at Arcadia


Maya Neal (Sr., Neuqua Valley)- Neal traveled ahead of Illinois several days before to begin her quest for a Heptathlon title. She was sitting in second after day 1. Neal will be off to U of Tennessee this fall playing soccer and competing in track and field.

Event 35 Men 3200 Meter Run Invitational (34) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 8:55 PM

Jesse Reiser (Sr., McHenry), Zach Dale (Sr., Conant), Kevin Salvano (Sr., Buffalo Grove), and Ryan Clevenger will all be in the event of the meet. They are all mum about their prospects other than wanting to run fast. Dale has already broken 9:00 from indoors and Reiser is the premier distance runner in the state. Salvano and Clevenger are real good too I hear. The field is load too!

Event 40 Men 4x400 Meter Relay Invitational (9) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 9:46 PM

Neuqua Valley. I cannot wait to see what this group will do in the showstopper! Some fan told me to expect a 3:15 clocking. I really think this team is that good. But are they that good now?

Event 43 Women Pole Vault (16) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 4:30 PM

Julia Junkroski (Sr., Lincoln-Way East)- the only representative from her team that originally contained the explosive relays and its force. According to meet management the Griffins pulled out due to some sort of injury (s). Junkroski can get over 12-feet of course and her continuing success will help the Griffins push toward another state championship in May.

Event 34 Women 3200 Meter Run Invitational (31) Saturday 4/11/2015 - 8:40 PM

Abby Kargol (Sr., Downers Grove South)- Kargol enters with a 10:50 seed from last year. But Kargol has run well over the indoor season that produced a 5th place finish at ITT. The continuing progress could see a possible take over of the state leaderboard.