MISSION VIEJO — When everything comes together, Corona del Mar High track and field coach Bill Sumner said this could be the best boys' team he's had in decades.
"Everybody has to show up and all the cylinders have to be firing," Sumner said. "We've got about 12 boys, and they all do more than one event. If all 12 boys show up and all the pistons are firing, this is the best team I've had in about 20 years."
Keeping with the car analogy, CdM did sputter at times on Saturday at the Orange County Track & Field Championships. But the Sea Kings still showed they have several athletes who deserve to be considered among the county's elite.
CdM's boys placed fifth in the meet, which was won by Mission Viejo. Mater Dei won the varsity girls' meet for the third straight year.
The Sea Kings are in the midst of a big season. They are undefeated in the Pacific Coast League, with their last dual meet coming Wednesday against Beckman. League finals follow on May 3.
"Oh my God, it was a long day," Sumner said after the Orange County Championships ended in the late-afternoon heat at Mission Viejo High. "We got a little banged up along the way, and some things didn't fall the right way. All in all, we got fifth, it's Orange County and there's a lot of schools here. We're in the hunt."
A big reason for the success is junior Matt Hurst, who finished top-two in both of his individual races Saturday. He won the 400 meters in 49.20 seconds, about a half-second off the school record. Hurst did set the school record in the 200, which he ran in a personal-best 21.88 seconds. That was good for second place, as Hurst was edged by JSerra junior Dante Pettis (21.84).
After Hurst's 400 win, Sumner approached Hurst.
"Remember what I told you your event was?" Sumner said to Hurst. "Do you believe me now?"
Hurst, clutching a backpack given to the winner of each race, just smiled.
"I always did," he responded. "I just wanted to run the  also."
Hurst said he tried to start strong and hold onto the lead. That strategy also worked for his senior teammate, Troy Hardy, who broke his own school record in the 300 intermediate hurdles to win in 38.35 seconds. Hardy held off Orange Lutheran senior Cullen Riser (38.46) at the end. Hardy's time was the eighth-fastest in OC Championships history.
"I felt Cullen Riser on my shoulder the whole race, so I ran the whole race scared," Hardy said. "Usually what gets me is my steps aren't right, but today I had my steps right … [Riser and I] have a high mutual respect for each other. One of us usually wins. At [the] Trabuco [Hills Invitational], that was the first time that it was really kind of a showdown between us. He won last time, so I wanted to win, I wanted to be No. 1 in OC."
Another busy Sea King on Saturday was senior Nick McGuiness, who earned the team points in all three of his individual events. He was seventh in the 110 hurdles in 15.51, and third in the 300 hurdles in 39.71. He also placed eighth in the high jump, clearing 6 feet, 2 inches.
Troy Bolus, Nick Willard, Lance Seger and Hurst finished eighth in the 4x100 relay. Hardy, Tanner Love, Nick McGuiness and Hurst also finished just eighth in the 4x400 relay, the event in which they excelled at the Arcadia Invitational. But, at Saturday's meet, the individual races had taken their toll by the end of the meet.
Sumner said Hardy hit a hurdle during his 300 win. He limped off the field after the last relay, an ice pack on his left knee.
"It was a hot day," Sumner said. "The boys wanted to know if maybe we shouldn't run the 4x400, but we have to get ready, because we've got CIF and league finals and all of that stuff coming. They're going to have to run those races, plus the 4x400. You don't want to torment your kids, but at the same time, they've got to practice."
CdM junior Spencer Keith was ninth in the 3,200 meters, in 9:51.91. Newport Harbor brought mostly frosh-soph athletes to the meet, but senior David Muñoz tied for 11th in the pole vault, clearing 13-4.
No Newport-Mesa varsity girl finished top eight in an individual event. The closest was Estancia junior Rebecca Lewis, who was 10th in the girls' discus with a mark of 106-10. CdM junior Emily Glenn was 11th in the girls' 300 hurdles, in 47.56.
Costa Mesa High also brought a small varsity contingent. The Mustangs' top varsity finisher was senior Dakota Alford, who was 14th in the boys' 800 with his time of 2:00.82. Costa Mesa Coach Steve Moreno said Alford wanted to go under two minutes, but the time still was a personal-record.
"He'll be ready for league," Moreno said. "He's on target."