Kye Courtney brings a simple philosophy into the track and field championship season: To win, one must first qualify.
With that in mind, the Hawthorne High coach was pleased with his team's performance in the 4-A Division preliminaries Saturday afternoon before 2,500 at Gahr High.
The Cougars placed eight individuals and all four relay teams in Friday's divisional championships at Cerritos College. The boys will compete in six individual and two team events and the girls will vie for five single and two relay titles.
"I always knew we had a good team," Courtney said. "Right now we're just trying to put it all together. We just want to take care of business and get our people into the finals."
Courtney sees Muir, Rubidoux and Compton as Hawthorne's toughest challengers. On Saturday, Rubidoux qualified in seven events and Muir and Compton placed in five categories.
Hawthorne started quickly by qualifying in the 400-meter relays. The girls covered the course in 49.18 seconds and the boys finished in 42.37.
The Cougars ended the day strongly by qualifying in the mile relay, the girls finishing in 3:56.72 and the boys in 3:19.63.
In between, Demond Smith qualified in the 110 hurdles (14.85) and the 300 hurdles (38.57). Kanika Conwright was also a dual qualifier, finishing in 12.36 in the 100 meters and 25.81 in the 200.
Meshana Mays qualified in the 100-meter low hurdles by running 15.40 and Kendra Ossey ran the 800 in 2:20.93. Dymetra Ruttlen went 35-11 3/4 to qualify in the triple jump.
Derek Scurry qualified in the long jump (23-3 1/4) and triple jump (47-6 3/4). A sore ankle prevented teammate Dannie Phifer from qualifying in two field events. But the senior went 23-8 1/4 in the long jump, one of the meet's top efforts.
Erik Allen, the second leg in the mile relay, qualified in the 200 in 22.70.
With Allen away, John Garrett filled in on the 400 relay team. Robert Blackburn made his mile relay debut, with sophomore Damon Oliver running anchor.
All told, Courtney was pleased.
"We were just trying to get by, get our numbers through and qualify," he said. "I see our teams as having a good chance next week and any one of those four can do it."