NORWALK — Marty Taylor says his favorite event is the discus throw. The reason why, he says, is that it's more fun to watch the disc fly.
When Taylor uncorks the disc for Newport Harbor High, it tends to travel far.
Going into the CIF Southern Section Masters Track and Field Meet, Taylor heaved the disc the farthest out of all the boys competing in his event. Taylor's best effort last week at the Divisional finals was a 181-foot, 5-inch throw, tops in the meet, almost six feet ahead of the nearest competitor.
Taylor's throws coach, Tony Ciarelli, figured that type of mark would not be good enough to win the Masters discus title at Cerritos College on Friday. Ciarelli was correct.
Taylor got upset in the discus, getting beat by someone who also bested Taylor in the shotput. That thrower was Nick Ponzio of Temecula Great Oak, who was expected to place first in the shotput, but not in the discus.
On his sixth and final throw in the discus, Ponzio produced a 186-5 throw, almost two feet ahead of Taylor's best mark of 184-8. Taylor wound up in second place.
Taylor advanced to the CIF State Championships in the discus for the first time and the shotput for the second straight time, placing third (60-2), almost five feet behind Ponzio. But Taylor, the lone Newport-Mesa athlete to qualify for state next week at Buchanan High in Clovis, looked disappointed.
"I was expecting to have a little bit of a better day [in the discus] because of practice this week," said Taylor, who recorded 190-plus throws leading up to Masters.
Hitting 190 at Masters was the goal, what Ciarelli expected from Taylor. Not helping Taylor, Ciarelli said, was him pulling his left shoulder off a bit, which caused him to lose some power on his throws.
"That's all it takes to go from the 190s to the 180s," Ciarelli said.
Prior to the meet, the only thrower to have reached 190 in the discus in the 12-man field was Taylor. The UCLA-bound senior came up well short of his personal-best mark of 190-4 1/2, turned in at the Division 2 preliminaries two weeks ago.
Taylor's mark ranks second in the state, behind Santee West Hills senior Brendon Song's 194-4. Song, from the San Diego Section, is the favorite to claim the discus at state.
Taylor was the favorite in the discus at Masters. He failed to become the second straight Newport Harbor thrower to win the discus crown.
Taylor's first throw, a 182-10, kept him in first, until Ponzio launched a 186-5 on his last throw. Taylor had one more throw to regain the lead, but he fouled it.
Taylor wasn't sure of the throw's distance, but it didn't matter.
"It wasn't far enough to win it anyway," Ciarelli said. "We're qualifying and that's what we wanted to do [in the discus and shotput]. We got a chance to go win [the discus] next week, and if he can win it next week, then we won't really care about this week so much. But our plan was to come in here and win [the discus] and try to get a new PR, and we didn't do either one.
"He's got some things to work on this week. He's not getting on the left and that's affecting him at the front of the ring. He's not getting the extension to do the shot, and that's those extra two or three feet that we need, and it's the extra 10 feet over in the discus. We'll work on it, and correct it, and be ready for next week."
Taylor earned another week to improve in his events. For the other three Newport-Mesa athletes at Masters, their season ended on Friday.
Newport Harbor senior Peri Howser shared ninth place (10-9) in the girls' pole vault, Corona del Mar senior Troy Hardy finished eighth (38.67 seconds) in the boys' 300-meter hurdles, and CdM junior Matt Hurst placed seventh (49.20) in the boys' 400.
Out of the three, Hurst was the closest to making it to state. He finished one spot away from qualifying. The top six advanced to state in each event.
"I'm bummed," said Hurst, who was seeded fifth in the race after turning in a CdM school record 48.08 last week at the Divisional finals at Mt. San Antonio College.
"I had it. I think I was in third after 300 [meters], then I just couldn't hold it. In the last 20 [meters], I started stumbling. My legs [got] tied up."