Previewing A Star-Studded APU Meet of Champions

In less than 24 hours, athletes from all over California will converge at the Cougar Athletic Stadium on Azusa Pacific's beautiful campus just east of Los Angeles.

Before the venue plays host to the well-known Bryan Clay Invitational next month, some of the region's best high school distance athletes will make their outdoor debuts on the same track.

The APU Meet of Champions will contest just three distances: the 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m. 

There are 36 races in total, with the action getting started at 7:15 a.m. (PST), spanning over 14 hours into the evening, with the tail-end of the meet set to be raced under the lights.

There are more than a few distance stars set to compete this weekend, so let's take a look at the top heats coming our way in Azusa.

Girls Invitational 800m

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/California MileSplit

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The final heat of the girls Invitational 800m is star-studded, to say the least. Ventura (CA) junior Sadie Engelhardt is set to race her third distance in as many weeks, this time dropping down to the 800m. 

Engelhardt owns the fastest time of the field, a performance of 2:05.66 that came in April of 2022. She's also coming off a 4:36 mile at NBNI and a 1,500m PB of 4:09 that earned her the win over a professional field at The TEN last weekend. 

She'll have some familiar faces alongside her, with Newport Harbor's (CA) Keaton Robar (2:09.13), Claremont (CA) senior L'Mio Edwards (2:09.45) and JSerra Catholic's Georgia Jeanneret (2:09.55) all entered in the event's top heat. While she ran in a New Balance uniform at The TEN, Engelhardt should feature in her Ventura uniform for the first time this weekend. 

Boys Invitational 800m


The boys race will see just as much firepower as the girls, with JSerra Catholic (CA) standout Alden Morales the top guy to watch. 

Morales formally introduced himself last month, dropping a crazy 1:49.91 at the JSerra Invitational, which was the fastest time in the country ran on the outdoor oval this season. 

Joining Morales will be the No. 2 and No. 3 returners in the state from a year ago, as Cathedral's (CA)  Ambodai Ligons (1:51.15) and Gabriel Rodriguez (1:51.79) of Great Oak (CA) are back for more. 

Ligons experienced first-hand the jump that Morales made, finishing runner-up to him in the sophomore's breakout race last month.  

Girls 1,600m Invitational


A year ago, Oaks Christian's (CA) Payton Godsey ran her lifetime best of 4:44.13 on the very track she'll step on tomorrow. 

Godsey enters the race as both the top seed, but she might not be the top side. However, she enters with some experience. This will be her fourth 1,600m race of the season, with her SB standing at 5:00.46 from the Westlake Distance Carnival.

Perhaps the favorite might be Rylee Blade, the high school junior from Santiago Corona (CA), who has run as fast as 4:46.28. 

Also be on the lookout for both distance groups from JSerra Catholic and Buchanan.

The Lions have a trio of Anne Elise Packard, Reese Holley and Kaylah Tasser set to work together, while the Bears' duo of Sierra Cornett and Elliana Lomeli share similar aspirations.

Boys 1,600m Invitational

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/California MileSplit

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What do you get when you combine a bunch of state champions and national qualifiers?

The boys varsity invitational mile.

An elite field consisting of top-notch milers Carter Spradling, Anthony Fast Horse, Emmanuel Perez, Jason Parra and many more will take center stage -- it's sure to be one of the best races of the night.  

There are a few different storylines to keep an eye on as far as these four seniors are concerned.

Let's start with Clovis East's (CA) Spradling, the top returner in the state from 2023. The soon-to-be Missouri Tiger is the only athlete in the field to have run under 4:08 and he already clocked a time of 4:14 this season.

Ventura's (CA) Fast Horse is in the midst of his revenge tour, after an injury prevented him from finishing out his stellar cross country season. The future Oregon star has had a busy last couple of weeks, running 1:54, 4:24 and 9:04 in the 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m as he aims to get back into his top form.

Cathedral's (CA) Perez is coming off a blitzing few runs at Nike Indoor Nationals and his 4:09.27 PB from last year should give him plenty of confidence ahead of his debut.

Last but certainly not least is none-other than Parra, the Millikan (CA) standout who threw down an 8:50.6 3,200m debut last weekend. Parra hasn't ran a mile since last April, but this isn't his first rodeo by any means. 

All four boys have the experience and talent to walk away with the win, but only time will tell if it's one of these four or a dark horse from the rest of the field.

Girls 3,200m Invitational

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/California MileSplit

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With 12 out of 23 entered athletes coming into the meet with personal bests under 11:00, it truly is anybody's race tomorrow night. 

La Costa Canyon's (CA) Gioana Lopizzo is far and away the top seed in part to her 9:59.08 from Arcadia last April, but she'll be doubling back after an 1,600m just an hour before. 

Meanwhile, athletes like La Canada's (CA) Maya De Brouwer, JSerra Catholic's (CA) Brynn Garcia and Claremont's (CA) Jie Yi Denise Chen will all step up to the line with fresh legs. The trio ran 10:26, 10:34 and 10:44 a year ago, respectively. 

In total, nine girls have ran under 10:55 and we could see more than that once it's all said and done tomorrow.

Boys 3,200m Invitational


Palo Alto's (CA) Grant Morgenfeld and Templeton's (CA) Joshua Bell are the lone boys to have run under 9:00 within the last year, with Morgenfeld even running 8:49.21 at Arcadia.

Bell clocked 8:55.52 in that same race, and tomorrow, both are making their 2024 3200m debut. 

Just a week removed from a huge 1600m PB of 4:08 at The TEN, Arnold O. Beckman's (CA), Ibzan Felix is looking to lower his 9:01 PB that came just two weeks ago. Felix is having quite the run, and with an experienced and fast field alongside him. 

San Clemente's Brett Ephraim has ran 9:05.99 himself, another contender on a long list.

What You Need To Know


Here is the schedule for the 2024 Meet of Champions, with the first gun going off at 7:15 AM (PST). The rated and invitational races get started at 6:30 PM (PST).

Additionally, you can find the full list of entries and live results on the meet's website