The top high school track and field athletes from across northern California met at Berkeley for the 2014 North Coast Section Meet of Champions, and Del Norte High School sent four students south to compete.
The Warriors sent senior Kaitlyn Clemann and juniors Kayla Costello, Grace Bruschi and Chad Bell to compete in seven events. The girls 4x100 meter relay team was also scheduled to compete but the team had to pull out due to academic concerns.
“We were pleased overall,” said Del Norte head coach Samuel Escobar. “Just the fact that the kids qualified to get there was a sign of success. While they got beat by obviously faster and stronger kids, we are still happy with their performances.”
Bell was the busiest Warrior athlete in Berkeley competing in three events over the weekend. Bell’s best event was the triple jump where he qualified for the finals on Saturday and finished with a personal record 43-foot-11.5 jump. He took eighth place overall in the triple jump.
“He was this little 5-foot-8, 150 pound kid, and everybody else was over six foot with long legs,” Escobar said. “The fact that he was able to qualify for the finals was great.”
In the long jump, Bell finished with a jump of 20-foot-6 to take 13th place. In the high jump Bell no-heighted, meaning that he didn’t clear the bar at his starting height.
“We were limiting the number of jumps that he took and were just hoping that he had a good pop,” Escobar said. “Unfortunately he just didn’t have it there early in the morning.”
Bruschi was Del Norte’s other multi-event athlete at the Meet of Champions, throwing both the discus and the shot put. Bruschi threw a personal record of 113 feet in the discus for 12th place. In the shot put, Bruschi finished with a mark of 32-foot-3 for 23rd place.
“I think it was a good learning experience for her,” Escobar said. “She got to see the competitiveness at that level.”
Costello got off to a great start in the 300 meter hurdles, but a late miscue slowed her up just enough to finish 13th in the prelims with a time of 47.09 seconds.
“She ran the type of race that we wanted her to run,” Escobar said. “She was in third place and pretty close to the second-place girl, but unfortunately she stutter-stepped on the last one, and a whole wave caught up with her. You have to be technically right on down there.”
Clemann ran the 100 meter hurdles in a time of 17.41, within 0.3 seconds of her fastest time of the season, to finish 23rd overall.
“It was nice for her to see that level of competition in a different arena than what she is used to,” Escobar said. “She is used to volleyball, and she is going to be competitive in that sport, but this was her only opportunity to do it in an individual sport like this.”
With none of the Warriors finishing in the top three to move on to the state meet, the Del Norte track and field season is now officially over.
The Warriors won the Humboldt-Del Norte County championship and the boys took third in the league this year.
“We had large numbers, good attendance and I think the kids enjoyed it,” Escobar said. “We had good results and we have higher expectations next year.”
Escobar is especially excited about the boys, who will return most of their top athletes for next season. He is hoping that they can join the girls team at the top of the HDN.
“If you look at the kids that are graduating in the league and who is left over, we have a young team, so I expect the boys to have a good chance at a championship next year.,” Escobar said. “The girls should be very similar to this year’s team.”