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Sakioka shares top spot

MISSION VIEJO — Ties aren’t supposed to happen at the Orange County Track and Field Championships, but that’s what Newport Harbor High senior Mark Sakioka found himself in late Saturday morning.

The heat, approaching 90 degrees, was bearing down on Sakioka and his good friend, El Toro senior Adam Bragg. Both had cleared 15 feet, 9 inches in the pole vault, but what did they have left?

“It was the wrong day to be wearing long black tights,” Sakioka said. “Right when I got out from under my umbrella, I could feel the heat. I said, ‘It’s going to be a long day. It’s going to be a really long day.’”

The bar went up to 16-3, then back down to 16-0 in a jump-off and finally 15-9 again. Neither Sakioka nor Bragg could complete another jump in the heat approaching 90 degrees.


The UCLA-bound Sakioka, the lone individual varsity winner from Newport-Mesa in the meet at Mission Viejo High, felt fine about the tie for first place. He still got to keep the winner’s backpack after setting the Newport Harbor outdoor pole vault record at 15-9, adding to his indoor record of 16 feet set in January.

“We picked a number from one and 10 and I got the number,” Sakioka explained. “He picked seven, I picked six and it was five. [Bragg] will get his backpack later.”

Ask Sakioka how the day went from one to 10, and he’d likely pick a higher number. He was previously tied with RW Henson for the Sailors outdoor school record. The 15-9 also is the fourth-best jump in OC Championships history.

“I feel great,” Sakioka said. “The record has stood for so long. The thing that’s so special about the record for me is that my coach [Fritz Howser] coached RW Henson, who jumped 15-7 and had the record before me. To be able to beat the record and be coached by the guy who coached the other guy, it’s definitely a bonus.”


Howser said Sakioka jumped well, even while not quite clearing in the higher jumps. His 15-9 has him tied for seventh in the state this season; the top mark is 16-3.

“He continues to take a lot of really good jumps at 16 [foot]-plus bars,” Howser said. “We’re going to get there. A lot of kids in the state are very competitive this year, and he’s right up there with them.”

Corona del Mar junior Karléh Wilson showed she was right up there with the best of Orange County in the girls’ throws.

She was second in the shot put (37-5 3/4) and third in the discus (a personal-best 120-9). Wilson nearly didn’t even make it into the nine-person finals in the discus but she uncorked a 114 on her last qualifying throw.

Then, in the finals, she got the 120-9 on her second throw. She squealed in excitement as she ran over to pick up the disc. It is a personal-best by a foot, said Wilson, whose personal best entering the year was just 102.

“Usually I run in track meets, and I didn’t have to run today,” Wilson said. "[The heat] didn’t really bother me. I was pretty relaxed the whole time.”

The heat maybe bothered Corona del Mar senior Jessica Imani a little more, although. Imani was second in the discus (121-4) and fifth in the shot (33-8.5).

“I’ve drunk already like three bottles of Gatorade,” Imani said. “The heat is definitely not my favorite thing in the world, and there’s no shade anywhere. It’s hard to find comfort.”


But Wilson and Imani do find comfort in the fact that they’re both strong throwers who can push each other to get better.

“It’s really nice when you go out to these meets and everyone’s kind of quiet, then all of a sudden you get into the ring and you hear your teammate [yell] like, ‘Yeah!’ ” Imani said.

Orange Lutheran senior Ava Kent, a Costa Mesa resident, also had a nice showing.

She was fifth in the girls’ 1,600 seeded race (5:02.15) and ninth in the 800 in 2:19.39. Kent, who is also headed to UCLA, said both times were personal bests.

“I got a 5:03 last year [in the 1,600],” Kent said. “This year I got another second off. And I came off a sickness and came back strong, so I’m excited with the time.”

Other top-10 finishers in varsity and/or seeded races included CdM junior Ryan Rodrigues in the 800 (sixth, 1:58.52). Rodrigues is the fifth-fastest junior in the state after running a 1:56.61 at the Trabuco Hills Invitational two weeks ago.

Kyle Iverson, Rodrigues, Jesse Mejia and Blake Myers had a tough race in the meet-ending 4x400 relay, but Rodrigues said they’re just four seconds off the school-record time of 3:22 and on pace to beat it by Pacific Coast League finals.

Newport Harbor junior Kasey Thompson got sixth in the girls’ shot put (33-8.25), as did Sailors senior Allie Krugman (11-3) in the pole vault.


Krugman was very close to clearing 11-9 on her final attempt, which would have been a personal-best.

“I was definitely going for that 11-9, but it happens,” Krugman said. “I was pretty close. We still have league finals and CIF, hopefully, if I can make that.”

Newport Harbor’s Max Van Bergh was 10th in the boys’ pole vault, clearing 13-3.