Eight local athletes, including five from Corona del Mar High, advanced in individual events to next week's CIF Southern Section Division III Championships. The finals are May 24 at Cerritos College in Norwalk. Several more Sea Kings will also go along as two of the school's four relay teams qualified in prelims Saturday at Jim Scott Stadium in Costa Mesa.
The top nine finishes in every event qualified for the CIF finals.
Matt Hurst will be the busiest area athlete at the championship meet. The CdM senior qualified first in the boys' 400 meters (49.25) and qualified seventh in the 200 (21.80). He'll also anchor the Sea Kings 4x100 relay that took seventh in the prelims (42.53).
"I kind of trained for the 400 and, just, whatever I get in the 200 I'm happy with," said Hurst. "It felt good to run faster than I ever have. It's fun."
Other double qualifiers include Costa Mesa's Quinton Bell with a personal-best 10.70 in the 100 (fifth) and in the 200 (21.72, fourth). Fellow sprinter Persis William-Mensah in the girls' 100 (11.92, second) and 200 (25.19, sixth) along with her Eagles teammate Rebecca Lewis, sixth in the shotput (35 feet, 9 1/2 inches) and eighth in the discus (107-0).
William-Mensah wore a beaming smile after finishing under 12 seconds (11.92) in the 100 for the first time. A CIF qualifier for four straight years, she hopes to take her season one step further before heading off to UC Irvine.
"I'm really excited," William-Mensah said. "I'm trying to get to the Masters meet this year. That's what I'm trying to do, that's my main goal because I haven't been yet."
"A new thing for me," said Bell in qualifying for his first CIF finals. He's headed to Texas Southern to play football and run track. "Senior year, I'm just looking to go out there and really make history for my school. You know, finish strong in my last high school sport."
Blustery conditions with a strong tailwind aided the sprint times but runners circling the entire track felt a strong resistance on the backstretch. That didn't seem to bother CdM senior Spencer Keith in his steady fifth place finish in the 3,200 meters (9:20.62). Nor did it knock down his classmates Alex Wilde (6 feet, 2 inches) and Asha Hardy (5-1) who finished seventh and tied for sixth respectively in the boys' and girls' high jump.
CdM sophomore Emma Kratzberg qualified with her seventh-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles (15.47).
"Going in to it I was ranked 10th," said Kratzberg, "so I managed to beat three or four girls, which is nice."
Others riding the Sea Kings' bus to Norwalk next week are Erika Anderson, Emily Glenn and Elin Wolker joining Kratzberg for the girls' 4x400 relay (4:06.87, ninth). Sutton Barbato, Barrett Barbato and Danny Giger teamed with Hurst to finish seventh in the boys' 4x100 (42.53, seventh).
The top six finishers at the Southern Section Division III finals can qualify for the CIF Masters meet the following weekend, also at Cerritos College, with a chance to reach the CIF State Championships June 6 and 7 in Clovis.