In perhaps the strangest scene yet in a year of COVID-19 disrupting high school sports competitions in California, former NFL player J.R .Redmond and his wife, Lisa, were limited on Saturday night to watching their daughter, Reign, run the 100 meters at the Arcadia Invitational from their car using a cellphone.
"I could hear my mom screaming from the phone," joked Reign, a sophomore at Carson High, after she upset the fastest sprinters in the state by running 11.75 seconds to win the event at Arcadia High.
There was a different atmosphere at Arcadia High without fans permitted to attend, as the bleachers are usually filled with spectators producing loud amounts of screaming and clapping. This time, the press box side was virtually empty and athletes watched socially distanced from the opposite bleachers. It was so quiet you could hear sirens from the nearby streets and people talking in the bleachers, but the diminished cheering didn't deter Redmond.
She ran once last season before track was canceled. She trained with her father and coaches. Now that the state championships are canceled, she made it clear what winning the girls' 100 meant to her.
"This was my state championship," she said.
Patrick Ize-Iyamu of West Hills Chaminade established himself as the fastest boys' sprinter in California, winning the 100 in 10.47. Soccer player Max Thomas of Anaheim Servite was second in 10.58. Thomas came back to win the 200 in a state-leading 21.37. The 100 lost one of its top competitors when football standout Domani Jackson of Santa Ana Mater Dei scratched because of some leg tightness. "He dreamed of this since he was a kid," coach Sam Collins said. Jackson should be back for the Southern Section championships next month.
Ize-Iyamu was disappointed by Jackson's absence but said, "I feel I could have gone faster. I'll take it." He finished third in the 200.
The featured race of the night was the boys' 3,200 meters, where 15 runners ran better than nine minutes. The winner was Colin Sahlman of Newbury Park in 8:43.42 and teammate Lex Young finished second in 8:43.51. In the girls' 3,200, Mia Barnett of Crescenta Valley won in 10:01.18.
Long Beach Poly's 400-meter girls' relay team came through with a state-leading time of 42.06 seconds made up of Kennadi Reed, Taylor Johnson, Anayah Wyche and Alyssa Perkins. Upland won the boys' relay in 41.43 behind Jailen Burrell, Kai-Graves Blanks, DeQuan January and Delaney Crawford.
In the girls' shot put, junior Hope Gordon of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame recorded a personal best of 45 feet, 7 inches to win. She has improved by almost eight feet in a year's time. Paige Sommers of Westlake Village Westlake won the girls' pole vault at 13 feet, 9 inches. Freshman Meagan Humphries of Santa Clarita Golden Valley won the girls' high jump at 5-4. Aujane Luckey of Long Beach Wilson won the 200 in 24.70.
For the Arcadia Invitational to even take place with more than 1,000 competitors over two days was a major accomplishment itself. Organizers, led by director Rich Gonzalez, worked valiantly for months getting approval from county health departments and deploying safety protocols.
"It's wonderful this was given the opportunity to be held," said former City Section commissioner Hal Harkness, who helped work with meet officials on Saturday.
Cajon track coach Tracy Jackson said, "When we got word there wouldn't be a state championship, I said, 'This is our state championship.'"
Antonio Abrego of Golden Valley won the 800 in 1:51.33. Football receiver JT Thompson of Studio City Harvard-Westlake won the triple jump on his final attempt at 47-2, the ninth-best mark in the nation this year.
During the open morning meet, the top performance was turned in by Mia Chavez of Chino in the girls' mile. She ran 4:55.72. Seth Johnson of Cajon finished first in heats of the hurdles, running 14.55 in the 110 highs.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.