Cross Country: Keith finishes 36th at state meet

Corona del Mar High senior Spencer Keith put in a lot of extra work to make it to this year's CIF State Cross Country Championships.

On early Saturday afternoon at Fresno's Woodward Park, Keith put in the work to stay with the pack early in the Division 3 boys' race.

He fell back a bit at the end, but still managed to finish 36th on the 5K course. Keith, the only Newport-Mesa runner to advance to state, crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 9 seconds.

"We went out a little fast," said Keith, making his first state meet appearance, in a phone interview. "I wasn't really used to that. I got kind of tired at the end, so I dropped back a little bit."

Keith, who was ranked 15th in Division 3 prior to the race by, said he did plan to go out quick, in the top 20. He ran 4:40 in his first mile and 5:20 in the difficult second mile, which featured the hills that Keith loves to run. CdM Coach Bill Sumner said Keith was in 16th place at that time, before fading a bit at the end.

Keith had finished 11th in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 Championships last weekend at Mt. San Antonio College, qualifying for his first state meet.

"We felt like this was the icing on the cake," Sumner said in a phone interview. "He had trouble finishing the race, but he ran with the big boys for a little while. That was something he wanted to do ... he didn't hit a home run, but he did get a base hit. It's a very good result for him. Corona del Mar High, and the city of Newport Beach, should be very proud of him."

Keith, who will be a valuable two-mile runner for the Sea Kings during the track season, said he was happy with the end of his cross country season. Saturday's Division 3 state race had 196 runners. Last weekend, Keith set the school course record at Mt. SAC, finishing in 15:15. The previous CdM record holder before this year was Brian Slingsby in 1994.

"I definitely did as good as I wanted to," Keith said. "[Woodward Park] is a good course. I feel like I could run a lot faster on it if I could do it again."

— Matt Szabo

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