Okodogbe also joined forces with teammates Nijae Jones, Darnella Jenkins and Erica Wilson to place fourth overall in the 4x400-meter relay, an event in which the Wolverines have become an annual threat in the state finals. The quartet’s finals time of 3:44.25 placed them behind national powerhouse Long Beach Poly, Gardena Serra and St. Mary’s Academy, all three of which hail from the Southern Section. Serra was powered by standout freshman Chimere Ezumah, the event’s only athlete capable of holding off Okodogbe in the open 400 meters. In fact, the Southern Section placed seven teams in the top eight. Deer Valley was the lone exception.
Freedom and Antioch were also well represented in Saturday’s action. Freedom’s Kenny Walker qualified fifth for the final in the boys’ 110-meter hurdles, posting a new school-record time of 14.12 before placing sixth in the final, running 14.26 in that race. Both races also solidified his status as the top sophomore hurdler in the state, beating Vista’s Devin Hickey in the trials and finals. It also marked the first time that a Freedom athlete had earned a medal at the state championships. Meanwhile, Antioch’s Evan Grimes burst onto the state scene with a fourth-place performance in the long jump, leaping out to 23 feet, 2¼ inches, missing third place by just a quarter of an inch. Grimes also ranked as the top jumper from the North Coast Section at the state meet.
A number of local athletes turned in solid performances in Friday’s trials portion of the meet, but were just unable to make the finals. Freedom’s boys 4x100-meter relay team missed making finals by eight-hundredths of a second, placing 10th overall in the state. Likewise with Deer Valley’s girls 4x100 meter relay, which placed 11th, missing the finals by just four-hundredths of a second.
In the field events, Khyia Slone of Heritage placed 14th in the long jump, while Antioch’s Tatjana Pitts placed 22nd in the discus throw. Deer Valley’s Sean Combs placed 20th in the long jump after fouling his first two attempts, while the Wolverines’ Erica Wilson recorded a pair of top-15 finishes in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
Deer Valley and Antioch were represented in the 200-meter dash, as Darnella Jenkins placed 18th in the girls’ race for the Wolverines, while Shamawn Wright placed 29th in the boys’ race for the Panthers. Rounding things out for the BVAL was Freedom’s Timazray Shepherd, who placed 19th in the 100 meters, running a school-record time of 10.7 against the deepest 100-meter trials in state history with the final qualifying time on Friday at 10.54.