Wrap-up of Saturday's Irvine Invitational


IRVINE – Summer came early for those participating in the Irvine Invitational.

The temperature reached 95 degrees at Irvine High on Saturday, and the athletes wanted to beat the heat. The early morning was filled with some big-time performances, especially on the track.

Newport Harbor’s Hope Bender had raced in the 100-meter hurdles only once before. On her second attempt, all she did was upset the runner-up in the event at 2014 Orange County Championships.

Bender busted out of the gate to post a time of 15.03 seconds, hanging on to beat Canyon’s Alexis Turley-Young (15.07).

“I wish I had been in a closer lane to (Turley-Young),” said Bender, who added she was unaware of competing against one of the county’s best. “I wasn’t even able to see her for the whole race, so I kind of felt like I was running by myself.”

“If we had been closer in spacing, I think I might have been a little faster.”

Bender’s efforts helped Newport Harbor (50.33 points) secure a third-place finish at the meet. Canyon’s 71 points were second to Arcadia, which finished with 83.

The Sailors senior has committed to UC Santa Barbara, where she intends to be a heptathlete.

Bender is planning on a big final year at Newport Harbor, but she knows the competition is fierce with No. 1 Los Alamitos sitting atop the Sunset League.

“I think the toughest thing is getting out of our league,” Bender said. “After that, it almost gets easier.”

Huntington Beach junior Cassie Durgy ran a 2:16.78 to win the 800. She placed second in the 1,600, five seconds behind Tesoro’s Briar Brumley (5:01.80).

Woodbridge sprinter Gabe Warner won a thriller in the 400. Warner trailed Servite’s Paul Resong until the final straightaway. When Resong’s speed dipped, Warner pounced in the last 50 meters to come away victorious.

Warner also ran a 22.55 to win in the 200, with teammate Alex Young right behind him at 22.80.

Woodbridge (80 points) won the boys title. Colony of Ontario (64 points) finished second, and Tesoro (54 points) placed third.

Tesoro’s Michael Mitchell put in a strong all-round performance. His wind-aided triple jump of 43.150 is second among county jumpers this season. The top spot belongs to Garden Grove’s Christopher Gonzalez, who leaped a 44-3 in the small schools portion of the Irvine Invite on Friday.

Mitchell won the 100 in 11.27 seconds on Saturday, and added top-four finishes in the 200 and long jump.

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