Call them, if you like, the fast five. Senior Katelynn Rowe, sophomore Kayla Costello and freshmen Joely Tynes, Maddie Critz and Rachel Rowe have advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Meet of Champions today at Edwards Stadium on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.
"Just the name - Meet of Champions - and the fact that we're going to be in it is pretty cool," Rachel Rowe said.
Katelynn Rowe is qualified individually in the 400 meters and as part of the Del Norte 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams. Costello will run the 300-meter hurdles and both relays for the Warriors. All three freshmen are relay participants; Rowe will run in both relays, Critz the 4x100 relay and Tynes the 4x400 relay.
The Del Norte athletes made it to the Meet of Champions out of the Redwood Empire Area Track and Field Championships on May 18 in Santa Rosa. Costello, Katelynn Rowe and the relay teams finished in the top eight in their respective events while braving their first meet conducted in truly hot weather.
"They made us sit out in the sun forever," Costello said. "I think I could've done better in the 4x4 at the end of the day."
The top three finishers in each event and a handful of at-large candidates who meet certain performance standards will be eligible to advance to the CIF State Track and Field Championships, held May 31 and June 1 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
The probability of qualifying for state is low, and the Warriors know it.
Costello's best 300 hurdles time of the season - 46.98 seconds, run on March 27 - was among the North Coast Section's top times in that event for over a month but is now 12th in the section. Katelynn Rowe's best 400 time - 58.84 seconds, set May 4 - ranks 17th. The 4x400 relay has the North Coast Section's 22nd-best time (4:11.13); the 4x100 relay has the 24th-best (50.54).
The focus, then, is on simply getting better and trying to record a season- or personal-best time.
"I just know that I've got to be on my A game or I'll just get drowned by all the fast girls out there," Katelynn Rowe said. "You either qualify or you're done. Getting to (the) second day (in) Berkeley has been a goal of mine for track season."
The Warriors believe that the faster participants in heats could push them beyond the first day of qualifying and into Sunday's competition for section titles.
"It's easier to run with real fast girls because they push you harder," Costello said.
For Critz, Tynes, and Rachel Rowe - Katelynn's younger sister - Berkeley represents a major stepping stone in their first year of high school track.
"It's just cool to be able to go," said Tynes, who narrowly missed qualifying for the Meet of Champions in the triple jump, her best individual event. "Making it is a big deal. I'm proud that we made it this far."
All three have impressed on and off the track this season. Critz, who participated in soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter, turned in the "most outstanding performance" of the Redwood Empire meet (according to Del Norte coach Samuel Escobar) with personal bests in the 200 meters (27.36) and the 100-meter hurdles (17.04). Tynes, also a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball), has competed in five individual events for the Warriors, in addition to relays. Rachel Rowe, primarily a sprint specialist, finished third at the Humboldt-Del Norte League White Star meet in the 200 (27.46).
"As a freshman, you're the lowest of the low," Critz said. "Being from (Del Norte), a school with not a lot of opportunities, you're the lowest peg on the totem pole."
It's a long climb to the top, but the Warriors feel like champions to have made it to Berkeley.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com.