By Nick Giannandrea
Meleni Rodney arrived in Visalia roughly 4,000 miles from home looking to hone her budding track and field talent.
Six years later, the former College of the Sequoias standout is an Olympian.
Rodney, who was a two-time individual state champion for Sequoias, is representing her native Grenada at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Rodney was a part of the 46-runner field in the women's 400 meters. She competed in the second of six heats on Aug 2, but did not finish the race.
Rodney is one of six Olympians from Grenada, an island nation of 111,000 people located in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea, roughly 250 miles from the South American country of Venezuela.
Rodney did some training in Visalia before leaving for Tokyo.
She is the second former Giant to compete on the Olympic stage recently, following in the footsteps of Daejah Stevens, who ran the 200 meters during the 2016 Summer Games.
After lettering in track and field for St. Joseph's Convent in Grenada, Rodney came to Sequoias to compete for former coach Curtis Allen.
Rodney would make an instant impact as a Giant, capturing the California Community College state championship in the 400 in 2016, finishing in 54.16. She also won the 400 at the Northern California Championships (55.49) while finishing third in the 200 (24.78) and helping the winning 400 (45.75) and 1,600 (3:57.90) relays.
In 2017, Rodney repeated as the state 400 champion (53.26) while also powering the gold medal-winning 1,600 relay (3:42.75) and finishing second in the 200 (23.71). She swept the 200 (23.25), 400 (55.08) and the 1,600 relay (3:47.41) at the NorCal Championships.
Rodney moved on to UCLA after exhausting her eligibility at Sequoias, where she was reunited with Allen, who became a Bruins' assistant track and field coach in charge of sprints and relays.
She capped a pandemic-extended career at UCLA with a historic senior season in 2021.
Rodney earned first-team All-America honors after helping the Bruins finish third at Nationals, running the opening leg of the 1,600 relay that clocked a school-record 3:27.68.
Individually, she was 10th at Nationals in the 400 in 52.02.
Her senior season also included victories in the 400 at the Stanford Invitational (53.37) and West Coast Classic (51.97), and a runner-up finish in the 400 at the Pac-12 Championships (51.32, fourth fastest in school history).
Sequoias will look to develop its latest track and field star in February when it launches the 2022 season under coach Kenny Jackson.