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Arcadia Invitational

Holly Lung, Staff Writer

The nation’s most competitive and prestigious high school Track and Field meet took place on the last weekend of our spring break, on our very own track. The Arcadia Invitational is known for luring in the best high Track and Field athletes across the country, annually providing a field of competition unmatched by any other high school track event.

The meet celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and has carried with it a history that is worthy of its coined title: “Home of National Records.” Dating back to 1968, when former AHS Track and Field coach Doug Smith decided to host an evening All-Area track meet, the Arcadia Invitational has since grown to host an average of 4,000 athletes, some coming as far as Canada, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand to participate in the prestigious meet.

The meet is generously sponsored by Nike and provides the school with what Assistant Coach Kevin Kua deemed a “hefty reimbursement.” He also noted jokingly that “more importantly, the free invitational backpacks are what really have us sold on hosting.” The invitational has now been host to 28 national records and 178 future U.S. Olympians including Ashton Eaton, Allyson Felix, and Ryan Hall.
This year’s participants did not fall far from the greatness of their predecessors, as there were two national records set in the duration of the two day meet. The most notable headline of the invitational was 2016 Olympian Sydney McLaughlin’s performance in the Women’s 300m Hurdles, where she broke the national record by over a second with a time of 38.90 seconds.

Although the meet has hosted 178 future Olympians, this year’s 50th anniversary competition was unique in that it was the first ever year featuring a current Olympian. McLaughlin competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she placed 5th overall in her semi-final heat of the 400m hurdles.

The other national record set was in the 4x1600m, The American Fork High School team from Utah broke the record with a time of 16:41.30, making its average individual time per 1600m an incredible 4:10.32. Other star athletes of the meet include Tara Davis of Agoura High School who won the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.01, setting a new state record and running the fastest time in the country this year in that event. Davis also placed 1st in both the triple and long jump, making her a triple champion.

A handful of our own top athletes were able to qualify for the prestigious meet as well, with teams and individuals competing in the 4x800m relay, 4x1600m relay, 3200m open and seeded races, Distance Medley relays, 4x400m relay, and jumps. Senior Joy Huang, an Arcadia Invitational veteran, commented that because this was “[her] third and last year racing at invite, there was more of a sense to have fun than to do well.” Junior Darius Jing also added that while “it wasn’t the best [he’s] ever performed, at the end of it, it’s a feat in itself to be in a meet like this and it’s been so much fun.”

While the reputation of the Arcadia Invitational is certainly one to resonate intimidation, it seems hosting it has grounded our own athletes in the midst of high-level competition, reminding them that it’s all about having fun.

Photo Courtesy of LATIMES.COM

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Arcadia Invitational