South Pasadena’s track & field program hosts The Tiger Invite, which has grown into a large event with more than 130 schools from nine states participating. Photo by Steve Whitmore

A massive track & field meet took over the South Pasadena High School main field this past Friday where more than 130 schools from nine states competed against each other in a variety of events.

So Pas High School track & field coach CB Richards said he held out many of his athletes because they had to compete the next day at the Arcadia Invitational, another much larger track meet. Richards said the student-athletes worked the Tiger Invite because of the number of participants. Richards even said that he wasn’t coaching during this massive meet. He was coordinating all the schools, races and start times. He was a busy man.

“There’s no time for coaching here today,” Richards said. “I have to take care of the meet. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”

There were 40 final races on the track ledger and that didn’t take into account all the prelims leading up to the final and then the field events, such as shot put, long jump and high jump, to name just a few.

The Ray Solari Stadium field at the High School was jammed with student-athletes from the nine states all-ready to do their best for the fans packed into the stands. The stadium was alive with food and drink concession stands with names like Hi-Life and Gatorade.

However, some So Pas student-athletes did get down to the business of racing and a pair of twins brought home a  medal for the school along with a couple on the girls side.

The So Pas High School twins Terrel and Ferrel Mansano earned a third-place finish in the 4X100 meter relay. They said they entered that race because they wanted for South Pasadena to have at least one medal to show for the day in the rising stars category, which are the track stars of the future, as the name implies.

“We usually run varsity but for this meet we decided to run rising stars for our team to get a medal,” Ferrel Mansano said. “We run at Arcadia tomorrow and we want to be ready.” The twins acknowledged that the two schools that finished ahead of them were “just faster than us” but they could’ve started faster off the blocks; something, they both said, that needed improvement.

“We came out a little bit slow out of the blocks,” Ferrel said. “We will work on the block starts.”

Both of them were pleased that they were able to accomplish their goal: Get a medal for the team.

“This is our only race today,” Terrel said. “We just wanted to get a medal for our team. It wasn’t our best. We can improve. We could get a little faster starts. We need to work on that.”

Brother Terrel agreed, saying there is much work to be done as the season continues to unfold.

“We’re working on getting faster and building our endurance,” Terrel Mansano said. “We also are building on our strength. We need to get faster at the start. That’s our biggest improvement we need to accomplish.” The twins are originally from Trinidad in the Caribbean.

Another racer, Eden Jayden, was in the rising stars 4X400 meter relay. Although So Pas finished 8th, Jayden said the experience of the track meet itself is well worth the effort.

“It’s pretty good,” he said. “It’s pretty busy. I feel like a lot of people are putting their all in the races and that’s important. To be honest, I just like the spirit of it all. This is great.”

Other standouts included So Pas sophomore Andrew Parkinson who finished eighth in a field of 54 runners for the rising stars 800 meters. Parkinson is the son of former So Pas track star and track & field coach Mike Parkinson. Also, Ivan Estrada who rose to the top during football season, finished 27th  in the boys varsity 200-meter dash.

On the girls side, Mai Koyama finished second in the rising stars 3200-meter run, bringing in another medal for the So Pas High team. Koyama also finished fifth in the rising stars 1600-meter run, again as a rising star.

Then there was varsity girls hurdler, Kim Avery, who finished second and secured yet another medal for the home team in the girls varsity 300-meter hurdles.

All the results listed here are from the website, royalresults.com.

Meanwhile, the meet that lasted from 11:30 a.m. to about 10 p.m. was the ninth annual event. Coach Richards said it’s becoming one of the biggest track & field meets in the region and one of the most popular in the country. Past meets have had participants from as far away as Canada and even New Zealand. The Tiger Invitational is held in conjunction with the Arcadia Invitational, considered by many as the most prestigious track meet in the nation. The 134 schools represented nine states, according to Richards.

Richards explained the reasoning behind the Tiger Invite in an email to The Review.

“The Tiger Invite is an overflow track invitational in conjunction with the national level Arcadia Invitational,” Richards said. “Arcadia is a long-standing national-level meet, which is the largest in the country for high schools. The Tiger Invite recently has become a national-level secondary-meet to Arcadia. Helping with the overflow of athletes that come from other states to attend the meet plus the frosh-soph level called rising stars.”

Richards said one of the draws is the rising stars category, which is relatively new to high school track & field.

“We offer varsity and frosh-soph level races called rising stars,” he said. “The rising stars level is one of the top frosh-soph level track meets in the United States. Not very often do you have a collection of frosh-soph level athletes coming together from nine different states.”

The states that were represented during the Tiger Invite included California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Kentucky, Illinois and Texas.

Richards attributed the popularity of the meet to fun and friendly competition.

“The Tiger Invite is known as a friendly fun meet with fast competitive times,” he said. “It just keeps growing in popularity.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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