Cute, Adorable, Gritty — and Fast: Youth

The first heat of 7-8 year runners take off at the start of the 200-meter race.

Participate in the Optimist/YMCA Track Meet

Running races, the shot put, javelin and long jump all provided lots of opportunities for almost 100 participants in the 47th Annual Optimist/YMCA Track Meet held on June 8 at Palisades High.

The meet was originally scheduled for June 2 but postponed because of the rain. YMCA Executive Director Jim Kirtley was asked if that hurt attendance. “A little, because people had already made plans for this weekend,” Kirtley said. “But on the positive side, this Saturday worked because people didn’t have to worry about parking.” (The event is typically held Sunday when the farmers market occupies the stadium parking lot.)

Optimist member Rick DeWeese, who organized the Optimist volunteers and has been in charge of the track meet for nearly 10 years, said the most difficult challenge was “getting everyone [volunteers] to sign up – and show up.”

DeWeese added, “The PaliHi Ambassadors really helped.” The Ambassadors are students who volunteer to work at community events. About a dozen showed up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a Saturday.

Optimists Dr. Mike Martini (left) and Dan Ackerman (right) had help from the Palisades High School Ambassadors (left to right) Aaron Benyamini, Eli Safaie-Kia, Kayla Hayempour, Avani Desai and Chase Cronn at the YMCA-Optimist track meet.

“Their help was monumental,” Kirtley said. “They helped with registration, handed out ribbons and took the results up to the announcer’s booth.”

He noted that some of the ambassadors are also part of the Y’s Youth and Government program, and he was glad that they are part of the PaliHi as well as the Y family.

For the first time, this meet featured adult races. The 50-meter dash was won by Antony Ridgely (6.87) and second was Deshi Darshan (7.19). In the 100, Albert Hwang was first (14.3), Cami Chapus second (14.4) and  Bruce Wallin third (14.59).

Participants also enjoyed the inaugural family/friends 4X400 relay, with many parents admitting that they were the weakest link in the relay. The event was so popular that two heats needed to be run. No results were kept for the relay.

Parents, kids and friends received instructions from the starter (right) about staying in lanes for the inaugural  4 X 400 relay.


Girls 3-4:

Lilly MacLean was first in the 25 meters (7.47) and tied for first with Dominique Kroot (21 seconds) in the 50-meter race. Amapola Samulon was first in the 100-meter race (27.65 seconds).

There were no results available for Boys 3-4

Girls 5-6:

There was a tie for first in the 50 meters between Mila Lindo and Sonya Reed (9.7 seconds). The girls went one, two in the 100 meters with Lindo (20 seconds) and Reed (21.05). Ally Humby was third (21.06).

Lindo, Humby and Reed went one, two, three in the 200-meter race (44.8, 45.2 and 48.62).

 Boys 5-6:

In the 25-meter race, Abel Samulon was first (4.06) and Christian Lindo was second (4.72).

In the 50-meter race, Orion Taffler was first (9:54) and Samulon and Lindo tied for second (9.7 seconds).

Taffler was also first in the 100-meter race (18 seconds) and Wesley Shepherd was second (18.25).

In the 200, Taffler was first (42.3) and Samulon second (43.15).

Girls 7-8:

In the 50, Sissy Betterton Gage was first (8.5 seconds) and Lara Masood was second (8.9).

In the 100, Katie Sakamoto was first (17.5) and Aurora Taffler was second (17.6).

In the 200, Ally Martin was first (38.2) and Katie Sakamoto was second (38.5)

In the 400, Sakamoto was first (1:30), Mila Humby second (1:32) and Ellie McLaughlin third (1:38).

Boys 7-8:

In the 50, there was tie for first between Frank Drozdz and Blake Shepherd (8.72).

In the 100, Drozdz was first (16.8) and Shepherd second (17.3).

In the 200, Drozdz was first (36.1), with a tie for second between Shepherd and Kellen McDonough (39.3).

In the 400, Drozdz was first (1:28), Orion Taffler second (1:45) and Raj Chopra third (1:59).

Girls 9-10:

In the 100, Elodie Chapus was first (15.0) and Amelia Drozdz was second (15.5).

In the 200, Drozdz was first (35.5), with a tie for second between Bianca Ballard and Maggie McLaughlin (36.5).

In the 400, Chapus set a new record in the 400 meters with a time of 1:12. (Chapus also held the old record.)

Boys 9-10:

In the 100, Colin Ridgely was first (16.4), Min Joon Kim second (17.2).

In the 200, Ridgely was first (36.7) and Neel Shourie  was second (38.8).

In the 400, Ridgely was first (1:27) and Kim second (1:32).

Girls 11-12:

In the 100, Cara Huang was first (15.7) and Casey Scaduto was second (16).

In the 200, Huang was first (32.72) and Scaduto second (32.9).

Boys 11-12:

Sam Plant took first in the 100 (18.7), the 200 (41.0) and the 400 (1:27.6).


Girls 5-6:

Ally Humby was first (8’6”), Sonya Reed second (6’2”) and Kylie Milken third (2’).

Boys 5-6:

Richard Reed was first (8’8”), Oreon Taffler (8’3”) second and Samulon (6’6”) third.

Girls 7-8:

Taffler was first (9’6”), Humby second (9’) and Sakamoto third (8’4”).

Boys 7-8:

Shepard was first (9’8”), Hudson Marks second (8’6”) and Gabe Smith third (7’3”).

Girls 9-10:

Ballard was first (10’4”), Grace H. second (9’) and Sierra Solum (8’).

Boys 9-10:

James Marks was first (10’3”).

No Girls 11-12:

Boys 11-12: Chander Desai (11’1”).

These javelin throwers were ready for their practice throws.


Girls 5-6: 

Kylie Milken 19′, Paloma Kroot 12′ and Sonya Reed 6′.

Boys 5-6:

Hunter Kroot 31’, Christian Lindo 30′ and Richard Reed 27′.

Girls 7-8:

Taffler 30’, Natalie Wallin 27’ and Sissy Betterton Gage 24′.

Boys 7-8:

Kellen McConough 63’, Taffler 46’ and Drozdz 35’.

Girls 9-10:

Drozdz 46’, Karoline Schmitz 42’ and a tie for third between Ballard and Chapus 36’.

 Boys 9-10:

Minjoon Kim 54’ and James Marks 32’.


Girls 9-10: McLaughlin 13’7”, Drozdz 13’4”, Grace Henning 12’3”.


Boys: Jameson Castello–sole 6-year-old (6’3”).


James Marks–sole 10-year-old boy (14’6”).


Desai–sole 11-12-year-old (18’8”).


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