NORWALK — Marisa Cummings and Melanie Powers jogged off the track at Cerritos College hurriedly, the biggest grins on their faces.
They ran right to the Corona del Mar High tent set up in the northwest corner of the warm-up area. Seconds later, shrieks of happiness rang through the air as they hugged their teammates.
The Sea Kings seniors were among seven locals who placed well enough at Saturday's CIF Southern Section Track and Field Divisional Finals to qualify for next Friday's Masters meet.
Mater Dei senior Scott Cook, a UCLA-bound Newport Beach resident, won the Division II boys' pole vault by clearing 15 feet, 6 inches.
"I was pretty pleased with it," said Cook, ranked second in the state with his personal-best of 16-1 this year. "It's been great. I'm so happy with the way my senior year has fallen together. It's pretty crazy."
Newport Harbor juniors Mark Sakioka and Max Van Bergh both cleared 14-6 in Division II to also advance to Masters.
The top nine track finishers in each division, minus the distance events, moved on to Masters. The top 12 field event finishers, plus distance events, also moved on.
Sailors senior Jake Taylor was fourth in Division II in the shot put (55-10) to qualify sixth for Masters, and CdM senior Jaycee Olsen was fourth in Division III in the girls' discus (129-06) and qualified seventh for Masters.
For Princeton-bound Cummings and Wake Forest-bound Powers, it was the way they did it in the girls' 3,200-meter race that elicited all the happiness.
Cummings could have been disappointed after finishing fourth in the Division III girls' 1,600 meters earlier in the day, not qualifying for the Masters, although her time of 5 minutes, 0.24 seconds was a season-best. Instead, she came through in the 3,200 with a sparkling 10:34.97, second place in Division III and a personal-best by 27 seconds. She passed her teammate on the final back straightaway.
Powers finished third in the division with a 10:36.61, a personal-best by 18 seconds in the rough race. Cummings got spiked twice in the tough race, but she and Powers qualified fourth and fifth, respectively, for Masters.
Cummings thought she'd move on in the 1,600, but Plan B wasn't so bad. She was only the 20th qualifier across all divisions in the 3,200 preliminaries, yet she moved on to Masters easily.
"I run my best when I just tuck myself in behind someone," Cummings said. "So that's what I did, and I was just hanging on for dear life, literally ... I was [mad after the 1,600]. Everyone has different things that motivate you, and I was all fired up after that."
Powers, who was in second or third for most of the race, said she could feel the rustle of runners behind her and she was just thinking "thank God I'm not back there."
"Coming into the race, I was super-nervous," Powers said. "Usually I'm used to running the mile and then the two-mile, and getting all my nerves out. I was more nervous than I should have been ... [but] this just shows how much you need a team out there. I couldn't have done that by myself. We broke through a wall."
Like the other Masters qualifiers, they will try to make top five Friday to advance to the state meet at Buchanan High in Clovis. But there are also at-large marks that qualify for state, and for the girls' 3,200 it's just over 10:45, so Cummings and Powers look to be in good shape.
So does Taylor, who has already passed the state qualifier of 55-4 with his mark Saturday.
"I think he's ready to go further," Newport throws coach Tony Ciarelli said. "It's good for him because he was the one who kind of lost his way for a while, but he's pulled himself out of it ... I don't know anyone who really wants to go to Fresno, except for that state meet. But if that's where it is, that's where we'll go."
Sakioka and Van Bergh both make Masters after clearing 14-6, which matched a personal-best for Van Bergh. Both had wanted to jump a little higher Saturday, but they couldn't argue with moving on.
"I'm super-pumped," Van Bergh said.
Olsen, headed for UCLA, didn't think she'd move on to Masters after throwing a 129-06 on her first discus throw. But she also advances, albeit with room for improvement.
"I was hoping that 129 was one of the steps to get up to where I wanted," said Olsen, who also finished ninth in Division III in the shot put in 34-04 1/4 . "I was looking at maybe 140-ish, around there, that would have been pretty cool."
The top six in each event also earned medals, and there were plenty of those to go around.
Sage Hill's boys had a strong day. The 4x100 relay team of Jack Percival, Lion Wintemute, Colton Gyulay and Kevin Schaefer set a school record in 43.47 seconds, placing third in Division IV. They had still hoped to win the race as well.
"We have a couple of seniors on the team [Wintemute and Schaefer]," said Gyulay, a junior. "They were putting it all out there at the end. We worked hard, it just wasn't enough, but it's a school record."
Gyulay also medaled in the Division IV triple jump. He was second with another school record, leaping 44-09 1/2 . Schaefer finished sixth in the 100 meters in 11.17 and Sage junior Luc Angel tied for fifth in the Division IV pole vault, clearing 11-6.
Costa Mesa's lone entrant in the divisional finals, senior Rachel Daley in the high jump, finished tied for third in Division III by clearing a personal-best mark of 5-4 on her first attempt. The Soka University-bound Daley barely clipped the bar at 5-6, but she's still a second alternate for Masters.
Corona del Mar's boys' 4x100 team of Cole Cottrell, Jeff Condino, Thomas Testini and Brent Gray were sixth in Division III in 43.37.
CdM's Sarah Keddington was ninth in the Division III girls' 1,600, in 5:16:18. Keddington, Olsen, Devon Hoppe and Katie Deverian also were third in the Division III girls' 4x400 in a season-best time of 3:55.08.
"It was the last race for a lot of us," said Keddington, a senior headed for UC Berkeley. "We wanted to make it good."
Ali Hummelberg was sixth for CdM in the Division III girls' 800, in 2:16.36, followed by teammate Kristen Rivera in ninth (2:19.15).
Newport's Ryan Andrews was sixth in the Division II boys' shot put (52-02). Teammate Steve Michaelson was seventh in the discus in 164-11, and is also a second alternate for Masters. The Tars' Ethan Cochran was eighth in 160-6.
CdM's Kyla Winkle (115-07) and Jessica Imani (113-06) placed seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Division III girls' discus.
In team scores, CdM's girls finished sixth in Division III. Newport's boys were eighth in Division II, as were Sage Hill's boys in Division IV.
"We ended on a good note," CdM Coach Bill Sumner said. "We were a little down. We're sixth out of 400 schools, and for Corona del Mar, they get a little disappointed about that. They've the raised the standards to, I guess, an unrealistic level. Then you come back and have two girls run so well in the two-mile, and that 4x400, you couldn't ask for anything more than that.
"You like to end with the win, but we're not greedy. We like to run the best we can run, and we did that in those last two races."