NORWALK — Newport Harbor High junior Ethan Cochran had the most crowd support of any competitor as he stepped into the ring for his first attempt at the discus Saturday afternoon at Cerritos College.
In addition to his Sailors coaches and teammates, Cochran said his mother, two uncles, an aunt and a cousin were on hand to watch the CIF Southern Section track and field divisional finals.
The applause died down for Cochran's first attempt. Seconds later it came again, even louder than before.
It was a personal-record throw of 194 feet. Cochran was not done.
Two throws later he hurled a 195-4 that easily won him the Division II title.
"I had a really good week of practice, so I just tried to carry that over to the meet and it worked out," Cochran said. He set a personal-best by nine feet, four inches and is now third in the state. He qualified first for Friday's CIF Southern Section Masters meet by more than 12 feet.
Cochran was one of three individual event winners Saturday, all of whom qualify for the Masters meet back at Cerritos College. He helped Newport Harbor finish a strong second in the Division II boys' team standings behind champion Loyola, despite not having any runners in the meet.
No one from Newport Harbor was really around at about 7:30 p.m. to accept the second-place plaque at the awards presentation. The Sailors still will have plenty of people coming back to Cerritos College for Masters.
Newport senior Mark Sakioka won the Division II boys' pole vault in a personal-best and school-record 16 feet, 3 inches, tying for first in Masters qualifying. Corona del Mar junior Karléh Wilson won the Division III girls' shot put in 41-2 ½, qualifying fourth for Masters.
Sailors senior Ryan Andrews was second in the Division II boys' shot put with a 59-9 3/4 mark, a personal best. Andrews qualified third for Masters, part of a strong day from the Sailors' throwers.
Newport senior JB Salem was fifth in the Division II shot with his mark of 56 feet even, qualifying eighth for Masters. Junior Steve Michaelsen was fifth in the Division II discus and qualified 11th for Masters, hanging in there after throws coach Tony Ciarelli said Michaelsen tweaked his back earlier in the week.
That made four Newport Harbor throwers who moved on, better than just the one (graduate Jake Taylor) from a year ago.
"We kind of knew last year we should have had more than that," Ciarelli said. "That's the beauty of getting a second chance, and obviously Steve and Ethan [both juniors] are going to get a third chance even. It's been a great year. It's a great group of guys, and they all get along really well. All of those things make it great to go out to practice and hang with them all day long. It's been very satisfying. It's the reason you coach, these kind of guys."
Andrews said his own day was "satisfactory" but he's really aiming at breaking the 60-foot mark. He echoed his coach's sentiments.
"It's great, I love it," Andrews said. "We've all gotten really close. Even though there are two juniors, we're really close with them. It's just fun, because every day in practice you're competing against guys who you know are going to be right there with you, through the whole finals and all the way to Masters and State. It's a good atmosphere to be in."
Harbor junior Fritz Howser will also return to Cerritos College Friday in the boys' pole vault, where he tied for third in Division II and moved on by clearing a personal-best 14-9. The top nine finishers in most track events, regardless of division, moved on to Masters. The top 12 in all field events, plus distance running events, also moved on.
Sakioka cleared 16-3 on his second attempt in the pole vault but couldn't quite get over the 16-7 height that followed. The UCLA-bound vaulter said he would likely begin training on a bigger pole next week in preparation for the Masters.
"It feels good, that's the only way to put it," said Sakioka, who is now tied for second in the state in the pole vault. El Toro senior Adam Bragg also cleared 16-3 Saturday.
"After putting in all the work, all the countless hours of jumping, it feels good to be able to succeed," Sakioka said. "But I'd be nowhere without my coach, Fritz Howser. He's done so much for me."
Wilson did not advance in the discus, where her mark of 121-1 still placed her third in Division III. In the shot, she's within striking distance of the school record, which CdM throws coach Isaias Morales said is 41-5. On Saturday she had her father and uncle there supporting her, which provided a funny moment as they were introduced to CdM Coach Bill Sumner.
"I heard that's Mr. Wilson," Sumner said, gesturing toward Wilson's uncle before turning to Karléh. "If that's Mr. Wilson, you must be Dennis the Menace."
But Karléh Wilson made sure she didn't get into trouble in the shot. She could have set the school record on her final throw but said she fouled after turning her head to see where her throw had landed.
"It was nerve-wracking," Wilson said. "Last week, I got the 41 throw on my first throw, but this time my first two throws I was second. I was like, 'I have to get it out.' Then even after I got the 41, there was another round. I was pretty nervous; I'm glad I got it. I was so relieved."
The top six in each event received medals, and there were plenty of those to go around as well. Corona del Mar senior Devon Hoppe was third in the Division III girls' 800 with a personal-best 2:14.84. Sage Hill junior Jack Percival was also third in the Division IV boys' 800 meters in 1:56.97.
His Lightning teammate, senior Colton Gyulay, was third in the Division IV boys' triple jump in 44-11 1/2 .
The CdM boys' 4x400-meter relay team (John Swigert, Alex Turney, Ryan Rodrigues and Kyle Iverson) was fourth in Division III in 3:22.59.
CdM junior Ashlee Powers was fifth in the Division III girls' 3,200 in 11:08.43. Orange Lutheran senior Ava Kent, a Costa Mesa resident, was fifth in the Division III girls' 1,600 in 5:00.73.
CdM's girls placed ninth as a team in Division III.