By Sue Pascoe
Track athlete Tim Goldman set the first Palisades High School triple jump record in 1977 with a leap of 43’11,” the first year the event was introduced in the City Section.
Three years later, Darryl Taylor extended the record to 48’5” and set the school long jump record of 23’8.” The records still stand, but Taylor, who now coaches the “jumpers” at PaliHi, is predicting his records may be broken by either Bailey Jones, Angel Ogwo or Cameron Bailey.
Last year, the three swept those events in the frosh/soph division at the city track meet, and this spring they continue to impress.
Jones, who won the triple jump and placed third in the long jump in 2016, has added the hurdles. The 6’1” Mar Vista resident played basketball his freshman year before devoting himself specifically to track. He tried long jump in the sixth grade, but as a 9th grader, “I tried triple jump and fell in love with it,” Jones said.
At a March 8 track meet against Taft and Eagle Rock, Jones won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.98, took fifth in the 100-meter dash (11.58) and was part of the winning 400-meter relay team (44.57) with Rayne Camden, Ogwo and Bailey.
“I’m still focusing on jumps,” Jones said, “but my times in the hurdles are dropping as I’m getting my form back.”
Ogwo, who grew up near USC and attended Paul Revere Middle School, had never tried any sport before going out for track as a freshman. “My mom wanted me to do it,” he said. “I’m not the athletic type.”
Coach Taylor saw his natural talent and stopped him from saying he wasn’t an athlete; he softly chided Ogwo, telling him it was time to reset his thinking.
“He ran the 100 as a sophomore and went 11.2,” Coach Taylor said, adding that Ogwo won the long jump and was third in the triple jump at the city frosh/soph finals. Ogwo, who stands 6’2”, won the 100 on March 8 (11.41) and placed third in the long jump (19’10”).
Bailey, who lives near Ogwo and also went to Revere, said “My sophomore year was the first time ever doing track. I knew I could jump, so I tried the long jump and triple jump.”
Bailey, a key wide receiver on the Pali football team, took second in both the long jump and triple jump at city last year. On March 8, the 5’11” athlete took second in the 100 (11.51) and first in the long jump (20’4”).
Bailey, Ogwo, Jones and football linebacker Rayne Camden, also a junior, won the 400 relay (44.59), but their best time this year is 44.13 at Redondo on March 11.
At an 18-team Culver City meet on March 4, in the triple jump, Bailey finished second (43’9”), Jones was third (42’4”) and Ogwo took fourth (41’7”).
In the long jump, Bailey went 21’5” for second and Ogwo was eighth (19’10”).
The new PaliHi head co-coach, Anthony Hernandez, told the News that about 150 kids came out for track this year.
“I have a love of the sport,” said Hernandez, a 2011 Pali grad who ran cross country and the 110 and 400 hurdles. “My mom showed up at every track meet.”
He emphasizes that track is more than physical, but also includes a mental component. “Some are intimidated,” Hernandez said. “I try to emphasize that it’s just a race, and it’s about learning.”
Immediately after graduating, he went to Pierce College for a short time before enlisting in the Army. He started at Fort Jerome in New York, transferred to Fort Benning, and was then deployed to Afghanistan on Sept. 18, 2012.
Hernandez credits his service in the army with teaching him to pay attention to the little things. Now he notices kids’ facial expressions and can tell if they need an extra word or two. In addition to his coaching duties, he’s a full-time student at SMC, where he’s majoring in kinesiology and hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy.
He deals with many kids who are unsure of their abilities. “They tell me, ‘Coach, I don’t think I’m ready,’” Hernandez said. “I tell them, ‘It’s a learning experience. Don’t get stuck in your head.’”
He emphasizes that if a person doesn’t do as well as they expected, they need to say, “I messed up—how do I fix it?”
“I’m starting to see the confidence go up,” Hernandez said.
As far as women sprinters, he has a young team; in addition to senior Jiro Agege and junior Neira Brown, he names sophomores Lilyan Garside, Molly Ryan, Leah Duante and Neira Brown as athletes to watch.
Distance runners are coached by cross-country coaches Gwendolen Twist, Bob Macias and Rob Hockley.
Macias said he has a strong team this year. Girls to watch include Elizabeth Rene, Brittany Darrow, Sarah Bentley, Nicole Figuro and Kimia Samandi. His top boys include Hunter Parker, Ben Hammer, Finn Crawley and Ben Hansen.
“My girls have already qualified for the Arcadia meet in the 4X800 and the 4X1600 relays,” Macias said. “And my boys are right on the edge of qualifying.”
The Arcadia Invitational will be held April 7-8, and Pali athletes will also compete in the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays on April 14-15. Home meets are April 6 and April 20, with Western League prelims on May 1 and finals on May 8, followed by City Section prelims May 15 and finals May 22.