“The Golden Hour”: 4 State Records Fall at Arcadia

Williams Field senior Saira Prince in the 300m at the Arcadia Invitational 2023 in southern California at Arcadia High School. Prince won the race in a time of 41.24, setting a new state record. It was her second of the evening.


It will go down as one of the most memorable nights in the history of prep track and field in Arizona.

"The Golden Hour," we'll call it.

Four different state records all went down at one meet, the 55th Arcadia Invitational in southern California. All happened within 70 minutes of each other.

The records begin...

The re-writing of the record books began at 6 p.m.

Williams Field senior Saira Prince got the ball rolling with her nearly flawless race in the invitational section of the 100m hurdles, as she won in a wind-legal time of 13.58. Prince beat out the previous record of 13.59, set by Hamilton's Ashlee Moore in 2014.

In the race, Prince was 10 for 10 when it came to clearing hurdles. Perfection, when it mattered the most.

Immediately after crossing the finish line, Prince let out a thunderous roar. 

"The reaction I had was pure, raw emotion," Prince said in a text message after the meet. "I've been fighting for a PR this season and when I crossed the finish line, I just knew. I had good competition, which made me push myself further than what I thought I was capable of."

It would be the beginning of a magical night in California. 

A kick from lane 3

Then, about 26 minutes later, Red Mountain junior Tyler Mathews decided to write down his name in the record books.

Momentum had been building for Mathews after he ran 1:50 for his leg in the 4x800m relay at the Shadow Ridge Showcase last month on March 11. He already had beaten the current state record holder at last year's state championships. He just needed the perfect race.

That moment came on Saturday as Mathews used a strong kick to finish in second place in the invitational 800m in a time of 1:49.32. That time eclipses the prior record of 1:50.12, which was set last year by South Mountain's Brian Fair Jr.

Tactically the race was tough for Mathews, who fell to the back early on as he got boxed in. But, Mathews was able to use his signature speed to work his way up and position himself well at the front heading into the final stretch of the race.

In the last 100 meters, Mathews had to push out wide and actually ended up finishing the race in lane 3. 

Mathews looks up at the scoreboard after his record-setting race in the 800m.


It's a landmark moment for the junior, who is the defending Division I state champion in the event but had to battle an injury in the offseason that affected his training. 

"For me, not only breaking the state record but also the 1:50 barrier were two goals that I wanted to get this season, so getting both in one race makes me feel really accomplished," Mathews said in a text message following the race. "After the race, when I saw my time come up, I had a huge feeling of relief and joy knowing that I could and did do it."

Hold up, another record?

About 18 minutes later, Mountain Pointe senior Jayden Davis hopped on the track for the invitational 400m. 

Davis has been knocking on the door of the record after he ran a 46.61 and 21.55 double in the 400m and 200m, both personal bests, at the Arizona Open last week in his final tune-up for Arcadia.

Davis after the 400m at the Arcadia Invitational.


All season long, Davis has been the one setting the pace. Very few athletes in the state have been in the same form as Davis this spring. 

This time, at Arcadia, he got to be the one chasing the leaders as Granada Hills' Dijon Stanley set the tone quickly. And it paid off in a big way, as Davis ran 46.45 to finish in third place -- recording a new state record in the process.

The old record was held by Desert Vista's Spencer Chase, who ran 46.47 in 2009.

"The state record was a goal from the start," Davis said in a text message once the meet ended. "I've been training with that in mind. God blessed me with a lot this season and there's more I want to accomplish."

Now, Davis is all alone at the top of the list for the 400m in state history.

We're not done yet...

Not even 15 minutes after the third state record of the evening and having just cooled down from her performance in the 100mH, Prince was back on the oval for her last event on the night: the 300mH.

In a moment that etched this whole day into history, Prince ran away from the field to win in a state-record time of 41.24. That mark beats out the record held by Fairfax's Ma'Kayla Dickerson, who ran 41.38 in 2019. 

"When I got over the last hurdle, I wasn't sure what I had run but I was expecting a PR," Prince said. "I had no clue it was the 300mH state record. I was told by my coach that I set 2 state records and I was just ecstatic. I couldn't believe it."

With her 13.58 in the 100mH and 41.24 in the 300mH, Prince arguably put on one of the greatest single-night performances in state history from a track and field athlete. Two state records in less than a hour is hard to beat.

The week will surely be seared into Prince's mind as she just announced her college commitment to Arizona State University on an athletic scholarship this past Tuesday  

Summing up the night that was

That means from 6 p.m. to 7:02 p.m., four different Arizona state records all went down.

We'll have to scour the history books, but it's a safe bet to say that is the first time in state history that has ever happened.

Four state records within 70 minutes.

No matter what happens moving forward, this night will always be remembered.

"The Golden Hour" will live on for quite some time.

Other headlines and news from the meet 

Millennium junior Landen LeBlond continued her magnificent season with a 4:44.60 effort in the invitational mile to finish in third place. This comes after LeBlond already lowered her state lead in the 3200m on Thursday evening at the Scottsdale Distance Classic with her time of 10:22.01.

The 4:44 mile puts LeBlond at No. 3 on the all-time state list. Using the MileSplit running conversion calculator, that time converts to a 4:42.95 1600m. That time places LeBlond at No. 2 on the all-time state list, behind Desert Vista's Dani Jones (4:39.88, 2015). 

In the seeded boys mile, Paradise Valley senior Lucas Grunden put in a big last lap to run 4:16.31 to come in third place. That time converts to a 4:14.82 in the 1600m, which takes the state lead away from Eastmark sophomore Bryson Nielsen. Grunden, a Concordia University commit, is top 10 statewide in both the 1600m and 3200m. 

On Friday night in the open 3200m, two Arizona runners became the first athletes to dip under 9:14. Salpointe Catholic senior and University of Arizona commit Michael Urbanski ran 9:09.98 to come in second and Highland senior Josh Howard ran 9:11.56 to come in fourth. They are now top two in the state. 

There was some reshuffling of the boys 800m leaderboards as well. Salpointe Catholic senior Diego Veliz and Queen Creek junior Zachary Ripperdan both moved up to AZ No. 2 and No. 4 with their races in the open 800m. Veliz ran 1:53.94 and Ripperdan ran 1:54.47 to finish in third and ninth, respectively. 

In the boys seeded 300mH, state leader Gilbert junior Vance Nilsson ran 38.21 to finish in second place. 

Over in the field events, Brophy Prep senior Brennen McHenry added another accolade to his name by winning the invitational high jump at 6-9. While it wasn't a personal best for McHenry, who is committed to the University of Texas and has already jumped 7-0 this season, it continues the undefeated season for the senior as he has yet to lose in the high jump.