Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

DN boys and girls teamstune up for another run at the HDN competition

When high school athletics are referred to as an outlet, it is implied that competitive drive is the foremost motivation for participating.

Competition was far from the top of Samantha Henkell's priority list. The Del Norte High junior joined the Warriors cross country team in 2012 because she enjoyed running and because she was looking to lose weight.

"I did a pretty good job eating right and exercising (before) but it wasn't enough," Henkell said.

Over the two-month season, Henkell struggled during training and races on trails and golf courses across Del Norte County. She consistently finished league races around 30th place. But her times gradually improved, her endurance picked up and the pounds melted away.

"I wish I could find a way to get her a White Star, as hard as she works," said assistant coach George Hartman.

Henkell said that she lost 35 pounds in the past year. For the 2013 cross country season, she sees even more room to improve by place and time.

"Last year I started out with, just finish the race," she said. "By the end of the year, I was thinking I could beat this person, that person."

"But everybody got better," she notes with a laugh.

Henkell has a training partner in Warriors senior Sabrina Bustamante, a top-20 runner in the HDN. Bustamante pushes Henkell during a race, but the two have become friends.

As a student, Henkell carries a 3.8 grade-point average. Her subject of interest is science; she is taking two Advance Placement science courses this year and created a documentary on Wolf Creek in Oregon with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry this summer.

"I just think it's kind of interesting," Henkell said. "I like history, too, and it's kind of embedded."

The third girl on the Warriors' cross country team is freshman Spring Wilson, who is projected to race up in the pack with Henkell and Bustamante.

"She's going to surprise some people," Hartman said of Wilson.

The Del Norte boys will be led by a senior and a freshman. Parker Thompson, the freshman, figures to be among the Warriors' top runners. Hunter Mattz, the senior, is the spiritual leader of the Warriors.

"If everyone tried as hard as Hunter does when he's running, you'd find out who can run hard and who couldn't," Hartman said.

Returning members of the boys' team are sophomores Joey Godla, Jordan Ridgley and Nicholas Jacob. Other members of the team include senior Alex Haro, juniors Blaine Sutton and Glenn Duncan, sophomore Michael Clark and freshmen Sam Clark, Garrett Galea, Graeson Cameron and Noah Thomas.

Reach Robert Husseman


Sept. 25: at Fortuna, 4 p.m.

Oct. 2: at South Fork, 4 p.m.

Oct. 9: at Arcata, 4 p.m.

Oct. 16: at home, 4 p.m.

Oct. 23: at McKinleyville, 4 p.m.

Oct. 30: at Eureka, 4 p.m.

Nov. 19: HDN Championships at Fortuna