NORWALK — St. Francis High's James Knowles and Philip Kostelnik of Loyola arrived at Cerritos College for Friday night's CIF Southern Section Track and Field Masters Meet brimming with great expectations.
They had earlier navigated their way through the ultra-competitive Mission League and straight through the CIF Division Finals to get to a point in the season where neither had previously ventured.
Knowles and Kostelnik left the venue with mixed emotions after they didn't qualify for the CIF State Meet in Clovis.
Knowles clocked 38.71 seconds to finish eighth in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. Kostelnik, a Glendale resident, was a part of a Loyola squad that had a mark of 3 minutes 18.98 seconds to place eighth in the 4x400 relay.
Knowles, the first Golden Knight to participate in the Masters Meet since Andrew Steben competed in the pole vault in 2006, needed a top-five mark or to meet the qualifying standard time of 38.26 to advance to the state meet.
Unfortunately for Knowles, it didn't occur.
Knowles, who won a Mission League championship in the 110- and 300-hurdles, said he had the quality start he had sought. However, the junior encountered difficulty near the halfway point of the race after successfully clearing the first five hurdles before running out of steam and consequently falling toward the back of the pack.
"This time, it was probably the greatest start that I had ever had," said Knowles, who was an alternate in the 110 high hurdles Friday. "The last 100-150 meters were the toughest for me.
"I was a bit nervous coming in, but I knew I was here for a good reason. It's a great experience for me competing in my biggest meet.
"I see a lot of potential for me leading into next year. This meet has allowed me to progress."
Jonathan Cabral of Agoura clocked 36.19 to win the event, followed by Mater Dei's Charles Michinock (37.66).
The UCLA-bound Kostelnik, who had won a league crown in the 800 (he was an alternate in the event Friday) and then helped the Cubs capture the league title in the 4x400 relay, said the Cubs' quartet that also featured Lee Hightower, Morgan Simon and 3,200-champion Elias Gedyon, had some problems adjusting while switching lanes during each hand-off.
"We had to swerve around on the hand-offs and that made things tough," said Kostelnik, who ran the third leg. "We got this far and this was something we really wanted to take advantage of.
"We expected to move on and it's disappointing to not be doing that.
"It was tough for Elias because he had just ran the 3,200. It's a big accomplishment to get here in the overall scheme of things. I just had bigger expectations. It's hard emotionally not to be going to state."
The qualifying time to reach the state meet in the 4x400 relay was 3:18.48.
Gardena Serra won the relay in 3:14.31, followed by Long Beach Poly (3:14.67).