Locals tangle with OC's best

Spring break is almost over in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Plenty of local track and field athletes officially get back to work Saturday, when they'll compete at the Orange County Track and Field Championships at Mission Viejo High.

Corona del Mar Coach Bill Sumner just wishes the meet was on a different weekend.

"It shows up in the wrong place for us," Sumner said. "We're on spring break and, in Newport Beach, a lot of kids travel during spring break."

Sumner expects to have almost his full team for this meet, but he said whether or not they kept with their training over the past week is a different matter.

"It used to be Easter break, and now it's spring break," Sumner said, noting that other school districts like Huntington Beach have a later spring break. "A lot of coaches say, don't let them go [on trips]. Give me a break. It's high school sports … You take what they give you, right?"

Regardless, the Sea Kings expect to have plenty of strong finishes. They have runners like Devon Hoppe and Kristen Rivera in the 800 meters, as well as Ashlee Powers in the 1,600 and 3,200.

"Ashlee's been running very well lately," Sumner said. "She got third in Arcadia in the day meet."

The CdM girls are also strong in the field events, with senior Jessica Imani and junior Karle'h Wilson in the shot put and discus. On the boys' side, they're led by Blake Myers in the 1,600 and 3,200, Kyle Iverson in the 400 and Ryan Rodrigues in the 800. Sumner said the 4x400 relay team of Iverson, Rodrigues, Jesse Mejia and Myers has gone 3:26 this year, within two seconds of the school record.

Newport Harbor boasts a school record holder itself in the boys' pole vault, senior Mark Sakioka. He holds the record with 16 feet even and is coming off a 15-7 showing at the Arcadia Invitational that tied him for fifth at the meet and has him at No. 8 in the state. Only Sakioka's friendly rival, El Toro senior Adam Bragg (16-1 at Arcadia), has vaulted higher in the county this year.

Another Sailor to watch is junior Titus Hasson; the sprinter will be in the 100 and 200.

Sailors boys' coach Nowell Kay won't have his full team, though, because the top throwers won't be in Mission Viejo. They won't be in Orange County at all, traveling north for the Mt. San Antonio College Relays. The OC Championships allows just two athletes per school in each event, and Newport throwing coach Tony Ciarelli has several top performers in both the shot and discus.

"It's kind of a split-squad deal for us," Kay said.

Coach Eric Tweit said the young Sailors girls will be running mostly in frosh-soph races, but they do have senior Allison Krugman and junior Sophie Evans in the pole vault and junior Kasey Thompson in the shot and discus. Krugman's season-best height of 11-6 has her tied for 15th in the state.

Costa Mesa has most of its athletes on the girls' side with senior Hunter Strodel and sophomore Kristi Adams in the 1,600, as well as strong throwers like Punua Fesili and Ashley Tupailesa (shot put) and Catalina Lay (discus).

Sage Hill, which also has been on spring break, has just three varsity athletes competing. Senior team captain Katherine Nagasawa will be in the long jump and triple jump, and the Lightning's other senior team captain, Luc Angel, will be in the boys' pole vault.

Sage Hill Coach Khara Covington said she's also excited to see the progress of junior Jack Percival, who will be in the 800. Percival has raced other events in the past but this is his first year in the 800. His first time running the race, he won the Laguna Hills Invitational in 1:59.75.

"We were really excited," Covington said. "He's kind of an all-around great athlete. He could do any event and be great at it."

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