CCHS Shows Well at Divisional Finals
Mekhi Evans-bey Qualifies for CIF Masters Competition
May 16, 2019
Culver City High track and field was represented well at the CIF Southern Section Divisional Finals last Saturday at El Camino College in Torrance. Centaur student-athletes combined to earn one gold, two silvers and one bronze in the sprinting events. The Culver girls finished 9th out of 36 Division 2 schools in the team totals while the boys placed 13th out of 45 Division 2 schools.
Mekhi Evans-bey ran a personal best time of 48.18 to take first place in the 400m Division 2 race. The winning time qualified him for this Saturday’s CIF Masters competition, also being held at El Camino College. He is the only Culver City track and field athlete to advance to the Masters, with an excellent chance to make it to the CIF State Finals held May 24-25 in Clovis.
“I tried to hit 47. I was looking at the time when I was running. I was trying,” said Evans-bey, a junior at Culver City High. “When it gets down to the first 150 I let my speed from the first 50 guide me through the curve. Then towards the last 150 I sprint through. I felt I could have went faster.”
Impressive was the fact that Evans-bey wasn’t at his physically best on Saturday due to being a bit under the weather from a cold. He also placed third in the 200m sprint finals and helped his 4x400m relay team place sixth. He was responsible for help collecting all 19 of the boys team points for the Centaurs.
Kayla Barnes put an accent on her fine career running for the Centaurs by capturing two silver medals in the 100m and 200m sprint finals. She led her team to a fourth-place finish in the 4x100m relay and ran second leg on the girls 4x400m relay team. Barnes won 25 total races this season in the four respective events.
“When I got out of the blocks I noticed everybody was ahead of me by one step. But I kept down and kept driving. My drive phase was the first 30 meters. Once I lifted my head up I could tell everybody was bunched up together except for the eventual winner,” said Barnes, who is graduating this year.
“By the time we got to the 60 meters I was able to pick up my legs and kind of feel the separation. Towards the end there were two other girls that were at the same speed as I was. So when I saw that I threw my arms out to clock in that 12.25 time and get second place.”
Barnes finished second with a time of 12.25 seconds behind 100m winner De’anna Nowling of Calabasas. She was actually tied for second with two other competitors but took second when the times were further dialed in to the 1,000 of a second. Barnes time of 12.242 edged Kirstin Light of Norco (12.246) and Kennedy Waite of Calabasas (12.247).
Barnes also placed second in the 200m sprint finals with a time of 25.04 seconds, again behind winner De’anna Nowling (24.28). “When I got out of the blocks I made sure I pushed extra hard. Once I came around the curve I felt pretty good,” said Barnes.
“Once I came off the curve a lot of things I’ve been practicing on started clicking in my brain and I was able to transition, pick up my legs, drive my arms and just finish off that race as strong as I could. I was able to separate from the rest of the girls.”
“But I just wanted to be extra safe and throw my arms into the finish line just to make sure. I did feel somebody like in Lane 3 coming up behind me. That’s one thing my mom always tells me to do: to throw my arms out or throw my body out just to make sure I’m safe and to take off seconds from my time.”
Junior sprinter Alexandria Williams placed seventh in the girls Division 2 300 hurdles event with a time of 46.52. She won eight 300 hurdles races this season and a combined total of eight more firsts in the 100m, 100m hurdles, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay events.
Sophomore sprinter Ayahna Bahati placed eighth in the girls Division 2 100m hurdles event with a time of 15.46. Bahati won nine total races this season in the 100m hurdles and 4x100m relay events. Bahati captured 17 firsts in combined varsity and frosh/soph events as a freshman last season.
The Centaur boys 4x400m relay team placed sixth in the event with a time of 3:23.30. Dialo Drati led off for Culver with Shamar Carter running the second leg, Evans-bey the third leg and Arman Rostamian anchoring. The team dropped slightly from its CIF Divisional Prelims time of 3:23.27 when they also finished sixth.
Evans-bey had higher expectations: “I felt like we could have ran faster than what we did. We could have trained more to get a better time than we got this week. Our fastest time this year was 3:20. I felt like we could be better.”
Evans-bey had to rally from a slow start in the 200m sprint finals to take bronze: “My start off for the 200m wasn’t as good as it could have been. My foot dragged when I took off.”
“During the driving phase I take 15 steps. I break the race down into three phases: the first 50 meters, the second 50 and then I hold it for the last 50 meters. Then I try to high-knee through the finish line. I started catching up near the end.”
The running events started off with the Culver girls 4x100m relay team finished fourth with a time of 47.95. Alero Soaris, Ava Belcher, Alexandria Williams and Barnes posted a personal season best. “We were the third or fourth fastest team coming in so we felt pretty confident about the race. We executed very well, got fourth place and we PR’ed,” said Barnes.
The running events finished off the day with the 4x400m relay events. Culver City girls ran their individual laps well but suffered time losses during the baton exchanges. The team of Yasmeen Delgado leading off, Barnes running second leg, Kennady Iverson third leg and Soaris at anchor finished ninth with a time of 4:01.90.
“I felt like we all ran effective 400’s but the thing that put us behind were the handoffs. When I was coming around to hand it off to Kennedy she was all the way in Lane 8 because they wouldn’t allow her to move up into Lane 1 to where I was running. It was really scattered about in the exchange area,” said Barnes.
I’m very proud of my team and everybody else that competed, like Alex and Ayahna both in their individual events. My relay teammates are sophomores and juniors. Being so young, I’m proud of them of the way they handled the meet on Saturday.
“It’s a big meet. It’s stressful and it takes a lot of mental toughness to do it. But they pulled it out and I’m so proud of them. I can’t wait to see how they do next season.”
Evans-bey is preparing for this weekend’s CIF Masters 400m sprint finals: “It was the first time this season I had competition. They definitely pushed me to run faster. It felt good to qualify for the Masters. It’s an honor to represent the school as the only competitor. I’m just going to have to work hard this week and give my legs a break on Friday.”