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Seniors show toughness

CdM’s Powers and Costa Mesa’s Stucker battle their own adversity to record area’s best finishes Saturday.

October 17, 2009|By David Carrillo Peñaloza

ORANGE — On a three-mile course, two local high school seniors battled fatigue and their reasons varied.

Corona del Mar’s Melanie Powers ran with the flu and Costa Mesa’s James Stucker ran without enough sleep.

The two still managed to record the area’s best finishes at the 43rd annual Orange County Cross Country Championships at Irvine Regional Park on a warm Saturday morning.

Powers placed fifth with a time of 17 minutes, 24 seconds in the girls’ sweepstakes race, helping the Sea Kings to their second straight seventh-place showing at the event.

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Stucker finished seventh in 16:07 as the Mustangs took 13th place in the Division III boys’ race.

While Powers really couldn’t do much to relieve her fever and muscle aches, Stucker made things tough on himself.

The night before, Stucker attended Costa Mesa’s Battle for the Bell rivalry football game against Estancia. Instead of watching the game from the stands, Coach Chuck Lester saw his No. 1 runner next to the cheerleaders on the all-weather track at Estancia High.

“He was doing back flips, helping the cheerleaders,” Lester said. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me? We have a meet [Saturday morning].’ He’s a real team spirited guy. He can be the mascot.

“I joked around with [my runners], ‘All you need to be home by 9.’ ”

Stucker said he went to bed before midnight. For someone with an early wake-up call Saturday, he improved on last year’s finish at the county finals.

Stucker moved up three spots and cut three seconds off his time. Not bad for someone performing at least 10 back flips during Costa Mesa’s 27-13 win in the Orange Coast League opener Friday night.

“I feel I can do better next time,” said Stucker, knowing he won’t have a football game to attend the night before the next meet.

The upcoming race is the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational in Walnut Friday. Stucker will participate as will Powers and other local runners.

The Sea Kings, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division III coaches’ poll, are looking to get healthy. Powers overcame the flu and she topped last year’s seventh-place result and slashed 10 seconds off her time at the county finals.

The flu bug has hit the squad, but CdM competed to the end with only five runners finishing the most competitive girls’ race of the morning.

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