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Sakioka shares top spot

High School Track & Field

Newport senior ties for first in the pole vault at OC Championships.

April 16, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

MISSION VIEJO — Ties aren't supposed to happen at the Orange County Track and Field Championships, but that's what Newport Harbor High senior Mark Sakioka found himself in late Saturday morning.

The heat, approaching 90 degrees, was bearing down on Sakioka and his good friend, El Toro senior Adam Bragg. Both had cleared 15 feet, 9 inches in the pole vault, but what did they have left?

"It was the wrong day to be wearing long black tights," Sakioka said. "Right when I got out from under my umbrella, I could feel the heat. I said, 'It's going to be a long day. It's going to be a really long day.'"

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The bar went up to 16-3, then back down to 16-0 in a jump-off and finally 15-9 again. Neither Sakioka nor Bragg could complete another jump in the heat approaching 90 degrees.

The UCLA-bound Sakioka, the lone individual varsity winner from Newport-Mesa in the meet at Mission Viejo High, felt fine about the tie for first place. He still got to keep the winner's backpack after setting the Newport Harbor outdoor pole vault record at 15-9, adding to his indoor record of 16 feet set in January.

"We picked a number from one and 10 and I got the number," Sakioka explained. "He picked seven, I picked six and it was five. [Bragg] will get his backpack later."

Ask Sakioka how the day went from one to 10, and he'd likely pick a higher number. He was previously tied with RW Henson for the Sailors outdoor school record. The 15-9 also is the fourth-best jump in OC Championships history.

"I feel great," Sakioka said. "The record has stood for so long. The thing that's so special about the record for me is that my coach [Fritz Howser] coached RW Henson, who jumped 15-7 and had the record before me. To be able to beat the record and be coached by the guy who coached the other guy, it's definitely a bonus."

Howser said Sakioka jumped well, even while not quite clearing in the higher jumps. His 15-9 has him tied for seventh in the state this season; the top mark is 16-3.

"He continues to take a lot of really good jumps at 16 [foot]-plus bars," Howser said. "We're going to get there. A lot of kids in the state are very competitive this year, and he's right up there with them."

Corona del Mar junior Karléh Wilson showed she was right up there with the best of Orange County in the girls' throws.

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