Track & Field: Taylor takes two

WALNUT — Marty Taylor's Saturday was over, in terms of throwing for Newport Harbor High at the CIF Southern Section Track and Field finals. He stuck around in the heat at Mt. San Antonio College, not to work on a tan.

Taylor sat on the bleachers near the shotput ring to watch two throwers, his competition next week.

Earlier in the day, Taylor won the discus throw with a mark of 181 feet, 5 inches, tops for all four divisions. The UCLA-bound senior's best shotput effort, a 60-4 throw, gave him the Division 2 title, but he knew it wasn't going to hold up as the meet's overall top mark.

"Geez," said Taylor, while watching Temecula Great Oak's Nick Ponzio hit 65-9, easily the No. 1 shotput mark in Division 1 and every other division.

"I'm going to have to step up my game."

Taylor has another week to catch Ponzio in the shotput. Taylor finished third overall in the shotput and he qualified for next week's Masters meet at Cerritos College in the event as well as in the discus.

Taylor, who helped Newport Harbor to a share of fifth place in Division 2, was one of three Newport-Mesa boys getting one step closer to the state meet. Corona del Mar is sending Matt Hurst and Troy Hardy to the Masters meet for the first time in individual events.

The area's lone girl advancing to Masters is Newport Harbor's Peri Howser in the pole vault.

Hurst and Hardy moved on after breaking CdM school records in the 400-meter sprint and 300-meter hurdles, respectively.

Hurst finished in 48.08 seconds, smashing Vince McGuinness' 30-year-old record of 48.60. Hurst, a junior, placed fifth overall, second in Division 3.

Hardy broke his own school record, with a 38.28, good enough for seventh overall and fourth in Division 3. The senior's previous best was 38.35, recorded last month at the Orange County Championships.

While CdM Coach Bill Sumner planned to take Hurst and Hardy to In-N-Out Burger for their record-breaking performances and helping CdM finish ninth as a team in Division 3, Hardy couldn't make it.

"I have to go to my grandma's 80th birthday party right now," said Hardy, who had already gotten his grandma Barbara Hardy a present.

Hardy's top-nine finish is another gift for his grandma. Only the top nine marks in the sprints and hurdles made the cut to Masters, along with the top 12 marks in the distance and field events.

Howser, a senior, was one of eight girls who cleared 11 feet in the pole vault. She will be making her Masters debut.

Taylor has reached the Masters meet before. Last year, he competed in the shotput and discus, finishing ninth in each, and advancing to state in the shotput with a standard qualifying mark of 57-9.

Taylor is looking to claim the discus and shotput titles at Masters this year. He's the favorite in the discus, as he has produced the second-best mark (190-4 1/2) in the state.

The thrower ahead of him, Santee West Hills' Brendon Song, who has uncorked a 194-4 throw, is in the San Diego Section. Taylor expects to see Song in a couple of weeks at the state meet at Buchanan High in Clovis.

Tony Ciarelli, the throws coach at Newport Harbor, said the current goal for Taylor is to make state in both the discus and shotput. The top six in each event at Masters earn trips to state.

In the shotput, Taylor went into the day chasing Ponzio, who holds the state's top mark at 69-7 1/4, and San Clemente's Kelsey Benoit, who's No. 2 at 62-6 3/4. Taylor is No. 3 at 62-5.

"He threw OK, not great," Ciarelli said of Taylor's result in the shotput, an event two other Newport Harbor throwers, juniors Ramsey Hufford and Will Fortier, failed to qualify for Masters, finishing fifth (52-0 3/4) and seventh (50-8) in Division 2, respectively.

"When you're on the bubble [like Hufford and Fortier], you got to let it all go. They'll be here next year. They'll be ready next year."

Other locals who plan to return to the section finals next year stronger are Estancia junior sprinter Persis William-Mensah, Sage Hill sophomore high jumper C.J. McCord and Estancia junior discus thrower Rebecca Lewis. The three did not qualify out of their respective events, along with two CdM seniors, high jumper Nick McGuinness and distance runner Teddy Parks.

William-Mensah placed third in the Division 3 100 with a personal-best 12.11 and sixth in the 200 by matching a personal-best 25.20. Her time in the 200 is a school record, Estancia Coach Charlie Appell said. William-Mensah was .03 seconds from breaking the school record in the 100, Appell said.

McCord was fourth in the Division 4 high jump. He leaped 6-1, four inches from the 12th and final qualifying mark.

McGuinness was closer to moving on in the high jump. He placed fourth in Division 3 and cleared 6-3, three inches off his best mark. A 6-6 would've guaranteed him a Masters spot.

Lewis' 113-1 mark in the discus gave her fourth place in Division 3.

Parks finished ninth in the Division 2 1,600 in 4:39.41.

Hurst was unable to move on in the 200, placing ninth (22.17) in Division 3. He wasn't sure if he was going to run it. The 400 had gassed him.

The 400, Sumner said, is Hurst's best chance at getting to state. Hurst will get his opportunity next week. His workout buddy will join him.

"After he made it [to Masters], I figured I had to go with him," Hardy said with a smile. "He needed someone to run with [in practice]."

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