Warriors track and field: Going the distance at DN

Triplicate Staff

Warriors throwers and assistant coach work together

Brianna Wakefield bends her knees and begins to step back and forth, discus in her hand. The Del Norte senior thrower takes one, two, three steps and launches...

A decent throw, maybe 65 feet out. Not up to her capabilities. But this is a Tuesday practice; no need to go all-out.

"Loosen up your shoulders," Doug Wakefield says. Breanna's father doubles as Del Norte's assistant track coach, in charge of the shot put and the discus. "When you're relaxed, you throw better."

As Brianna Wakefield works out the kinks in her shoulders, sophomore

Kira Standring waits out in the tall grass as the designated retriever.

Senior Morgan Laney stands near the discus ring, awaiting her turn.

It's a more intimate practice, with the season nearing its conclusion

and a traditionally small number of interested parties. Nevertheless,

Doug Wakefield can apply hands-on training as needed.

"It's probably the most fun of all the years for me," he says. "I

don't have to split time between events. I stay with the throwers for

the most part."

Wakefield is one of three assistant coaches that work with head coach

Samuel Escobar and the Del Norte track and field teams. Fred Victor

assists the Warriors' long and triple jumpers, while George Hartman

works with the Warriors' distance runners and high jumpers.

"What's nice is that they're out there on a daily basis," Escobar

says. "The kids appreciate the individual attention. It's hard for one

or two people to (give them) that."

Wakefield originally owned Price Striping, a highway striping

company. When he sold it in April 2006, he volunteered to work with the

Del Norte track team.

He had never participated in throwing events during his athletic days

but he soaked up as much as he could. YouTube videos, Internet

information and coaches' clinics and camps helped him brush up on the

technical aspects of throws.

Wakefield admits to having grown as a coach along with his athletes

in many respects. Practices, then, become a lesson in improvement by

committee, the coach offering up what he sees and suggestions for

improvements and the athletes responding in kind.

Brianna Wakefield was introduced to throwing events by her father as a

high school freshman and has grown to enjoy them. She has no qualms

about being coached by her father.

"There's never been a fight between us," she says with a laugh.

"Dad's an awesome coach. He wants to see you improve. He treats us like

high schoolers."

"The kids are going to be more respectful with someone's dad than with a coach," Escobar says.

Brianna Wakefield took third place in the shot put (29 feet, 5.5

inches) and fourth place in the discus (84 feet, 0.5 inches) at last

week's Humboldt-Del Norte All-County Meet in Fortuna. The discus throw

was a personal record; her personal-best shot put throw of 31-8 came

back in March, at the Brookings-Harbor Icebreaker meet.

"Bri came out gangbusters," Doug Wakefield says. "She's had some good

days and some bad days (since then) - she's definitely been

consistent."

Laney, who will join the Sacramento State track and field team next

season, racked up two personal bests in Fortuna, throwing the discus

103-5 (third place) and putting the shot 39-6. Her shot put mark broke

the school record by two inches and won the league championship.

"It was nice to finally break it," Laney says of the school record.

"I tried not to focus on it too much. I knew that I could do it, and

I wanted to do it at White Star [the All-County Meet].

"I'm just now starting to get decent at discus. I'm just now feeling

what it's like to have a good throw. (The personal-best throw) felt

smooth."

Standring has primarily served as understudy to the two senior

throwers this season, but she has improved in the shot put by two feet

and the discus by six feet, with room to grow.

"Kira's gotten a lot better," Doug Wakefield says. "Her form is going

to be helpful to girls coming in next year. The seniors are

demonstrators. It helps kids a lot; they can pick it up faster (watching

their peers)."

"It's not something old guys can demonstrate," he adds with a grin.

Up next for Del Norte is the North Coast Section/Les Schwab Redwood

Empire Area Championships, known colloquially as Redwood Empire. Team

score will be kept, but individual placement is paramount - the top

seven in each event will automatically qualify for the North Coast

Section Meet of Champions, the last step before the California

Interscholastic Federation State Meet.

Reach Robert Husseman at rhusseman@triplicate.com .

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