ORANGE — The CIF State cross country meet is the year-end goal, as teams push to make it to Fresno's Woodward Park.
For the Corona del Mar High boys' team, the issue is particularly pressing. That's what happens when you miss the state meet by a single place, like the Sea Kings did last year.
And that's also why the Sea Kings took their lumps Saturday in the sweepstakes race at the Orange County Championships, held at Irvine Regional Park.
"Three of the top teams in the country are in that race," CdM Coach Bill Sumner said of Dana Hills, El Toro and race winner Trabuco Hills. "For us, we chose the sweepstakes so we could have that kind of competition that it's going to take to get us to the state meet. The boys need the experience. They don't want to miss the state meet again because they don't know how to race a big meet."
They finished 14th out of 20 teams in the sweepstakes, the top race, but their team time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and two seconds was the best of the Newport-Mesa boys teams competing. Newport Harbor's boys placed eighth in the Division II race.
CdM junior Blake Myers was the fastest local boy in the three-mile race. He finished 39th in the three-mile race in 15 minutes, 31 seconds, followed closely by senior teammate Austin Barvin (15:33) in 41st.
Seniors Alex Turney (15:54) and Derek Satterfield (16:08) placed 67th and 81st, respectively. Satterfield was an alternate but moved up to fourth position for CdM, not really surprising for Sumner as he said his team is deep.
"It's looking good for our team in CIF," Turney said. "We'll probably make state with those times, and it's still early."
Myers said he wanted to start strong, and he did just that.
"Coach told me to run top 10 for the first mile, and then after that just try to hang on," he said. "It was more of a trial-and-error race … It's OC Champs, it's not like CIF or state. You can try and do other stuff you might not always try."
Newport Harbor Coach Nowell Kay is just worried about getting his team to CIF. His first response to how his team did Saturday?
"Ehhh," Kay said. "I don't know. It was all right. You always want them to do a little bit better. We just had a few things that didn't quite go right today. We just have a few guys coming back from injury."
Senior Alex Jolly, the team's top runner from last year, is recovering from a lower leg injury. He finished third on the team and 42nd overall, in 16:25. That was behind teammates Austin Little (15:33, seventh) and Jake Barber (15:49, 14th).
"He's just getting his racing legs back," Kay said of Jolly. "He needs to be up with our top two guys, Little and Barber. And Barber ran decent today, especially for a junior, but he needs to be up with Little."
The Sailors will be one of the few teams not making the trip to Mt. San Antonio College next weekend. Kay said he wants his team to rest up for Sunset League finals, Oct. 30 at Huntington Beach's Central Park.
"We're really trying to finish in the top three in league and get into CIF," Kay said. "We're just trying to get healthy for that time in the season."
Costa Mesa and Sage Hill competed in the Division III race, where the top local was Sage Hill sophomore Chris Andras in 42nd (16:50). Teammates Brennan Hicks (16:52, 46th), Alemar Brito (17:01, 50th), Jack Percival (17:07, 60th) and Dylan Thies (17:32, 76th) followed.
Five finishers in the top 80 helped the Lightning finish ninth as a team.
"No superstars, but we've got some really solid kids," said Sage Hill Coach Nate Miller, whose team had the lowest "spread" time in the race. Just 42 seconds separated Andras from Thies.
Costa Mesa was 22nd in the division. Senior William Gyorgy was the lone Mustang in the top 100, finishing 96th in a personal-record time of 17:57.
"I wasn't expecting to run as fast as I did," Gyorgy said. "I was surprised."