Newport throwers take on Masters

Mark Sakioka once said Newport Harbor High has one of the best boys' pole vaulting programs in the state.

If that is the case, the Sailors are royalty when it comes to the boys' throwing events.

The number of throwers from Newport Harbor at the CIF Southern Section Masters meet Friday at Cerritos College is four, compared to two pole vaulters.

The four throwers, Ethan Cochran and Steve Michaelsen in the discus, Ryan Andrews and JB Salem in the shot put, and two pole vaulters, Sakioka and Fritz Howser, have one goal in common. Each wants to represent Newport Harbor at the state finals.

They get their chance Friday to qualify out of Masters, along with Corona del Mar's Karlèh Wilson, who is competing in the girls' shot put event. The throwing and pole vault events start at 4:30 p.m.

The top five in each event advance to state on June 3 at Buchanan High in Clovis. None of the seven athletes from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District schools reached state last season.

Sakioka, Cochran, Andrews and Wilson have the best shots at making their first state appearance.

In the pole vault, Sakioka ranks second in the state with a mark of 16 feet, three inches, which he recorded while winning the CIF Southern Section Division II title last week at Cerritos College. The effort is a personal best for the senior and a school record, and it is one inch behind the state leader, Lemoore's Kyle Fraley, who is from the CIF Central Section.

The UCLA-bound Sakioka expects to see Fraley at state next week.

Sakioka's teammate, Fritz Howser, is a long shot to crack the top five at Masters. Howser's best clearance is 14-9, but 11 other competitors at Masters have cleared 15 feet this season.

The discus at Masters features eight of the top 10 throwers in the state. Cochran ranks third at 195-4, which the junior unleashed at the section finals last week, when he placed first in Division II.

Cochran is still six feet away from Paramount senior Ma'a Brown's top mark and 12-5 away from the state leader, Jayson Kovar, a junior from Burroughs of Ridgecrest.

Michaelsen has his work cut out for him if he plans to place in the top five. Throws coach Tony Ciarelli said last week that the junior tweaked his back before the section finals.

Michaelsen's best throw came at the Sunset League finals, where he hit 178 feet, ranking 11th in the state.

In the shot put, Andrews is No. 5 in the state at 59-9¾. He recorded the personal-best mark last week at the section finals. He is peaking at the right time.

Salem, a Stanford-bound football player, will need to better his personal best of 56-4¼ by at least three inches to be in contention for a top five spot.

Wilson, the only local girl at Masters, has what it takes to be the second straight thrower from CdM to move on to state. Wilson was the fourth qualifier out of the section divisional last week, when she won the Division III title.

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