SPHS Athletes Fare Well at Track Invitational

Austin Green
South Pasadena Review

Photo by Austin Green / The Review
Kaile Fernandes, Amelia Jarolim, Gabriela Rodriguez, Miranda Liu, Sydney Morrow and Lindsay Michels helped the South Pasadena High School track and field team capture the girls’ division at Saturday’s Pasadena Games invitational. SPHS also won the boys’ division to complete a Tigers’ sweep.

Less than a week after they finally got approval from Los Angeles County to do so, and following a hectic few days of planning, South Pasadena High School and head track coach C.B. Richards hosted the 75th Pasadena Games on Saturday at SPHS.
Richards, the meet master, presided over a festive, normal-like atmosphere — complete with a socially distanced DJ — that welcomed athletes, coaches and fans from more than 20 schools to the South Pas campus with safety protocols in place. As the cherry on top of a successful competition on Saturday, Richards’ Tigers easily topped the boys’ and girls’ team leaderboards at the end of the meet.

“People wanted a chance to get out and see their kids run and do activity again normally,” Richards said of the strong turnout. “For me, it was really cool to offer that after basically almost two years of no invitationals for these kids.”
SPHS won the boys’ side with a score of 117 and the girls’ side with a score of 96.5. Studio City Harvard-Westlake came in second in both competitions, with point totals of 65 and 73.5, respectively. La Cañada took third on the boys’ side with 51 points and Redondo Union High of Redondo Beach took third on the girls’ side with 57 points.
“We always run well on our home track,” Richards said.
The Tigers racked up six individual victories and 21 top-three finishes with impressive efforts across the board. Ferrel Mansano took second in both the 200 meters and 400 meters with times of 22.69 and 50.67, respectively.
Patrick Latting won the 800 with a personal record time of 1:57.57, and SPHS swept the top three in the 1600 and the top two in the 3200. In the former, Andrew Villapudua took first with a 4:22.69 time, Andrew Parkinson took second with a 4:24.03 time, and Liam De Villa took third with a 4:38.46 time. All three marks were new personal bests. In the latter, Villapudua won again with a 9:47.51 time and teammate Brady Nakamura took second with a 9:57.77 time.
“The guys were really pumped to try to improve their seed times in some of their individual [events] and they did a really good job of that,” Richards said.
Richards was also impressed by his boys’ performances in the field events, which were held earlier in the day. Dominic Ramos won the pole vault with a 12-foot-6-inch jump while Nikolas Iwankiw and Noah Leider took third and fourth in the shot put with throws of 49 feet, six inches and 47 feet, seven inches, respectively. Richards expects all three to continue building up their strength and eventually qualify for the Arcadia Invitational in early May.
The Tigers’ girls were just as impressive. Freshman sprinter Lyla Keller recorded a fifth-place finish in the 100 with a 12.68 time and anchored a second-place finish in the 4×100 with a time of 49.56 along with teammates Skye Jade Harris, Ella Leeson and Annalea Pearson. Keller also came in fifth in the long jump at 16 feet, 10 inches.
Sydney Morrow had both individual wins for SPHS on the girls’ side, taking first in the 1600 with a season-best 5:06.99 time and first in the 3200 with a personal record time of 11:27.60.
“Sidney wanted to drop some time,” Richards said. “She had run last week at Laguna Beach Distance Carnival and she ran a 5:11. So she wanted to show that she was a little faster than that… She wanted to show that she was back to where she was in 2020. She’s showed that now.”
Lindsay Michels finished just behind Morrow in the 1600, an impressive time given that she had initially planned to miss the meet to celebrate her 18th birthday. But when her plans fell through, the Tigers’ senior co-captain became a late addition to the lineup and wound up staying into the night to help Richards and her teammates clean up after the meet.
“She wasn’t even in the program on Saturday morning,” Richards said. “Pretty cool.”
Other notable finishes for the Tigers’ girls included Kerrigan Riley in the 400 (third place, 1:02.24), Amelia Jarolim in the 800 (fifth, 2:42.21), Lilian Zhu in the 3200 (fourth, 12:43.42), Miranda Liu in the 3200 (fifth, 13:23.79), Violet Main in the shot put (third, 30 feet, 4 inches) and Ella Jayaskera in the high jump (third, 4 feet, 10 inches).
Even more impressive than SPHS’ performance on its home turf was the work put in behind the scenes. Because the meet involved more than two schools, Richards needed special clearance from L.A. County to hold the meet because it contained more than two teams and thus fell outside the blanket rules for youth competition from the state. He spent weeks coordinating with and lobbying the county health office, but did not get that clearance until the Tuesday before the meet — delayed by an extra day because the county initially sent the final paperwork to the wrong email.
Once he received the green light, however, Richards got the full support of the South Pasadena school district, SPHS principal and athletic director. Staffers from across the district and SPHS stepped up, from the maintenance department to the athletic trainers and school nurse, who took an extra day, and even the baseball coach, who allowed access to the adjacent baseball field for teams to use as a socially distanced rest area and even helped Richards set up the night beforehand. Richards went through training to become the COVID-19 protocol compliance officer and delegated other officials with helping enforce safety regulations. Fortunately, no major compliance issues arose.
“Things flowed really well,” Richards said. “The coaches and the fans were fantastic. We had no issues with anybody like being anti like, you know, I’m not wearing these masks or I’m not following these rules. Everybody followed the rules… It was a really a team effort.”