DN rides superior numbers to boys, girls championship

BROOKINGS andshy;- There is strength in numbers.

The Del Norte track and field team demonstrated that old adage, using a huge advantage in team size with 64 kids in attendance, to run away with both the boys and the girls team titles at the Brookings Icebreaker on Monday.

The boys scored 144 team points to top second-place Brookings-Harbor by 21. The girls scored 171 points, outscoring Brookings by 85.

"Overall, we are pleased with performances," said Del Norte head coach Samuel Escobar. "It was a smaller meet, some of the events didn't even have kids from all the schools. Once we start going to the league meets, there will be a lot more kids out there."

After trying out a lot of different relay combinations at the Panther Relays over the weekend, Escobar wanted to see how his athletes performed as individuals on Tuesday.

"We are trying to get a feel of where to put kids, so by the end of the season they know where they can score and where they are going to excel at," Escobar said. "That is how we play these preseason meets."

Many of the results were not suprises for Escobar.

"The studs were studs, like Kayla Costello in the hurdles, Maddie Critz in the sprints and Chad Bell in all his events," Escobar said. "They are going to perform. It is the other kids that you look at."

One of those other kids was junior Jordan Babich, who joined the track team for the first time this season.

"Kayla kind of talked me into it," Babich said, about why she joined the team this season. "I thought, since I wasn't really doing anything I might as well get a workout in."

Babich took second place in the triple jump with a distance of 29-feet-2-inches in her first time ever competing in the event. Jordan was first introduced to the triple jump on Monday in practice.

"We went over the basic techniques and basically just sent me out there," Babich said with a smile.

"I was just kind of winging it."

But Babich's "winging it" was good enough to put her within two feet of where teammates Kaitlyn Clemann and Joely Tynes finished the season last year. Clemann and Tynes finished 10th and 11th respectively in the Redwood Empire Meet in 2013.

"I was really determined to do well my first time," Babich said. "There were only four of us, so I though, 'Heck yeah, I'm going to place no matter what.' Once I saw a girl jump close to me, I was determined to do better and beat her."

The girls finished the meet with a first place finish in nine of the 16 events.

The boys only took first place in four events. Bell won the high jump and the long jump and Jesus Lara won the 800 meter run and the 1500 meter run.

"Last year I won it as a freshman, so I was expecting to win again this year," Lara said.

"This guy is confident that he can go out there and do well," Escobar said. "In one of his races, the kid in second place was catching up to him. He made a good run, but then Lara saw him and beat him at the end. He needs to be pushed."

The Warriors now have two weeks off before the teams take the track again. While the first few meets, coaches have been trying to find out where each of the kids fit best, now the team is going to start some event-specific training.

"It is time to start working on specific drills," Escobar said. "We have seen enough to know what events we want to put kids in. It is a good time to start focusing on more drills, more techniques and more skill building."

The Warriors will be back at home for the first league meet of the season on April 2.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.