The Del Norte track and field team, which had over 70 athletes throughout the season, is down to just seven athletes in eight events as the Warriors prepare for the North Coast Section Meet of Champions at the University of California Berkeley.
Friday will be the qualifying round with the top eight runners in every event and the top nine in each of the field events will move on to the finals on Saturday. Top three finishers at the NCS Meet of Champions will advance to the California State Meet.
Chad Bell — High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump
The Warriors only male representative at the Meet of Champions will be junior Chad Bell. Bell has been one of the top scorers for the Del Norte boys all season long in a wide range of events.
Throughout the course of the year, Bell has been all over the track running sprints and competing in nearly every field events. Bell has been running track since seventh grade and always enjoyed being in the jack-of-all-trades role. That is why he is hoping to continue competing in decathlons after high school.
“I like doing a lot of different kind of events.,” Bell said. “I am not the best at every event, but I’m good at a lot of different things. I love doing track, so I think decathlons would be fun.”
This will be Bell’s first trip to Berkeley to run after coming close to qualifying each of the last two years.
“It is really exciting,” Bell said. “I have been hoping to go for the last two years, but I just wasn’t quite there yet. This year it should be pretty fun going in three events. It will be cool to see all the good competition there. The longest long jumper in the nation (Nate Moore of Castro Valley) is going to be there too. He is jumping 25-10 — that is 4-feet farther than me, but it will be cool to see.”
Grace Bruschi — Shot Put, Discus
Junior Grace Bruschi has been a three-sport athlete for the past two years with volleyball, basketball and softball. This spring, Bruschi decided she would try out a fourth.
“I just felt like I needed more exercise and I wanted to try something new,” Bruschi cited as her reason for joining the track team.
Bruschi, who also started at third base and center field for the Warrior softball team, was only able to practice with the track team on weekends and had to miss several meets, including the HDN County finals, due to softball games.
Although she couldn’t devote her full attention to throwing, Bruschi established herself as the best discus thrower in the conference and placed herself near the top of the standings consistently in the shot put.
“My throwing coach told me my softball background helps a lot,” Bruschi said. “I have the natural ability to do most of it. It has to do with the hips, and in softball we use our hips for batting.”
Kayla Costello — 300 meter hurdles
Junior Kayla Costello is the only Warrior of the four that qualified to compete individually this year who also qualified last year. In 2013, Costello finished 14th in the qualifier with a time of 48.11.
“I thought it was a really good experience,” Costello said. “I am glad I am going back to try it again. The girls are really good there and it pushes you harder when you see more people ahead of you.”
This year, Costello is hoping to improve on her personal-best time of 46.15 seconds.
“There are girls that will be running way faster than me,” Costello said. “I will just be trying to PR and see what happens.”
Kaitlyn Clemann — 100 meter hurdles
Senior Kaitlyn Clemann ran track as a junior last year, but the volleyball star wasn’t sure if she wanted to compete on the track again this year while she is preparing for a college volleyball career. A few days into the season, however, Del Norte head coach Samuel Escobar got her to reconsider.
“Coach Escobar talked to me and told me that it would be a good opportunity for me to come and work out and hopefully help out the team,” Clemann said. “I am really glad that I did. It was a really fun season. It was a good last season as a senior.”
4x100 meter relay — Maddie Critz, Rachel Rowe, Maddison Smedley, Kayla Costello
The 4x100 meter relay team returns to the NCS Meet of Champions with three of the same runners who placed 18th last season. Maddie Critz, Rachel Rowe and Kayla Costello all return to Berkeley while Maddison Smedley will make her first trip to the NCS meet.
“It was definitely intimidating when we first got down there,” Rowe said. “There were all these big girls with huge thighs and we were just some small-town girls from Crescent City.”
Rowe said the girls are hoping for a personal record in Berkeley, but they are expecting a similar finish to last year.