COSTA MESA — Matt Hurst, Troy Hardy, Nick McGuinness and Tanner Love hung out at the track and field meet as they always do, together. They weren't going to run together on Saturday, though.
The race that united them on the track was the 4x400-meter relay, an event they were disqualified from last week at the Pacific Coast League finals.
The episode marked the end of the season for one of the best relay teams in Corona del Mar High's history. Not being able to race together again bummed them out.
Hurst said the 4x400 relay, which he anchors, is his favorite race. He's the one who dropped the baton down the stretch, but he had to forget about the misfortune.
Hurst focused on two individual events he could actually run at the CIF Southern Section Division 3 preliminaries at Estancia High. And, boy did he run them well.
Hurst qualified third in the 400 with a time of 49.90 seconds and ninth in the 200 in 21.91, allowing the junior to advance to the finals in both sprints next week.
Hurst is one of four CdM boys moving on to Mt. San Antonio College. Two of his teammates on the 4x400 relay are as well, albeit in different events.
McGuinness and Hardy qualified in the high jump and 300 hurdles, respectively. McGuinness finished in the top nine with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches in the high jump and Hardy ran the 300 hurdles in 38.87, good for seventh.
Teddy Parks of CdM made it in the 1,600. He qualified seventh in 4:20.63.
The only other athlete from a Newport-Mesa school making it to the finals is Estancia sprinter Persis Williams-Mensah. She qualified in the girls' 100, placing fourth with a personal-best time of 12.13.
In the running events, nine athletes advanced to the finals, each heat winner, followed by the next fastest times. The top nine in each field event qualified.
Williams-Mensah is returning to the finals in the same event. The junior got off to a fast start in the 100 and claimed her heat.
All week, Williams-Mensah trained in that lane she ran in, No. 7. Estancia Coach Charlie Appell advised her to pull her block away from the starting line, where she usually positions it.
The move worked, as Williams-Mensah exploded off the block.
"Did I expect to win it?" Williams-Mensah said of her heat. "Not with how I was seeded in the heat."
Williams-Mensah said she looked at the fastest time in her heat, a 12.28 by Paso Robles' Samantha Anderson, and used it as a barometer. She easily topped the mark.
Next is a different venue, a much hotter one in Walnut. Williams-Mensah said she enjoyed performing at home because of the weather in Costa Mesa and her familiarity with the track.
The Sea Kings liked racing close to home as well. Four will be making the 36-mile trip to Mt. San Antonio College next week.
One finalist might have to sit out.
McGuinness injured his right ankle while in the lead in the 110 hurdles. The event has become his best during his senior year.
"I nailed the third hurdle, which kind of led me to basically roll my ankle," McGuinness said. "I felt like a big shot go through my entire leg, which didn't feel too good.
"I've never actually sprained my ankle, so I don't really know what to compare it to, but it doesn't feel good."
McGuinness tried to rest, in hopes of competing in the 300 hurdles later in the afternoon. He had to withdraw because of the injury and to save himself for the finals in the high jump next week.
Hardy ran the 300 hurdles, even though he wasn't 100%. The senior battled through a sinus infection and advanced to the finals for the first time in the event. He almost made it in the 110 hurdles, finishing 11th (15.17).
Hurst's trip to the finals will be his first.
In his debut at the prelims, Hurst expected to reach the finals in the 400, as he was seeded second. He finished behind Beverly Hills' Alexander Rohani (48.75) and La Verne Bonita's Devin Rutherford (49.73).
The 200 was a different story for Hurst. His coach, Bill Sumner, didn't think he could go very far in the event. The 400 is the event Sumner said is Hurst's best shot at making it to the CIF State finals.
In Hurst's heat was the defending CIF State champion, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame Khalfani Muhammad. The UC Berkeley-bound football player can fly and he did past Hurst and everyone else.
Racing with Muhammad actually forced Hurst to run fast. He came close to breaking his own school record of 21.88, and it was enough for him to snag the ninth and final spot for the finals in the 200.