Four Warrior individuals, one relay team qualify to move on from Redwood Empire meet

The Del Norte track and field team took 29 kids down to Santa Rosa to compete in 53 different events at the North Coast Section Redwood Empire meet on Saturday and seven athletes in eight events were good enough to earn a bid to the North Coast Section Meet of Champions trials.

The top seven finishers at Redwood automatically qualify for the NCS meet. The Warriors were able to take advantage of the nice weather to turn in some of their best performances of the season in Santa Rosa, including three individuals and eight events that finished in the top seven.

Chad Bell was the only boy to move on, taking second in the high jump and the triple jump and third in the long jump. His triple jump of 42'9" was a personal record by 2 inches.

On the girls side, Grace Bruschi, who missed the Humboldt-Del Norte County Finals due to a softball conflict, came back with a fourth-place finish in the discus and a seventh place finish in the shot put. Bruschi's shot put mark of 33'5.5" beat her previous best throw by over 1-foot-5-inches.

Kayla Costello finished seventh in the 100 meter hurdles and sixth in the 300 meter hurdles. Costello elected to scratch the 100 meter hurdles, however, in favor of concentrating on the 300 meter hurdles at the NCS meet.

Thanks to Costello's scratch, Kaitlyn Clemann, who finished ninth in the 100 meter hurdles with a personal best time of 17.12 seconds, was able to snatch up the final qualifying spot for the NCS qualifier. Clemann also tied her personal best in the high jump, clearing 4-foot-10. She was in a 5-way tie for the seventh and final qualifying spot but missed the cut in tiebreakers.

The girls 4x100 meter relay team of Maddie Critz, Rachel Rowe, Maddison Smedley and Costello will also move on after finishing sixth overall. It was the first time this year that all four of those girls ran in the 4x100 and their time of 51.39 was nearly a second faster than the previous fastest relay this year, run at the HDN County Finals.

"During the year we didn't put our best 4x100 meter relay team together because we were using those runners elsewhere," Escobar said. "The fact that we were able to put our four fastest kids together and improve by a 1.5 seconds is great. I think we could get down into the 50s by next week."

Although Del Norte has a solid contingent of athletes moving on, for most of the Warriors that competed in Santa Rosa, it was their final competition of the year. Although they didn't place in the top seven, several more Warriors saved their best performances of the year for the end of the season.

Senior Ryan Waite finished with a PR of 44.99 in the 300 meter hurdles.

"Last year he was caught in between long distance and sprints, but he is just one of the nicest kids on the team," Escobar said of Waite. "He showed up every day, he did his work and never complained. He improved as time went by."

Emily Holt also ran her fastest time in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 53.80 seconds.

Saige Swan had his best day of the year with PRs in both of his events. In the discus, Swan threw 112'08" and in the shot put he heaved it 41'02.5".

Fellow thrower Jacob Leblanc continued his late-season push with another personal record in the discus. Leblanc threw 110'5" at Redwood Empire, beating his previous personal record by 2 feet. Less than a month ago, Leblanc's farthest throw this year was 87'2".

"The team as a whole was right where we expected them to be," Escobar said. "Out of the 50 or so events that we had down there, we had about 10 PRs. It is nice for the kids that PRed but are not moving on that they got to finish on a high note."

The North Coast Section Meet of Champions Trials will be held at the University of California-Berkeley on Friday beginning at 9 a.m. The top nine athletes in each of the field events will advance to the NCS Meet of Champions Finals on Saturday. In the running events, the winner of each of the three heats will advance to Saturday along with the next five fastest times.