The Del Norte and Castle Rock track and field teams headed to Fortuna on Wednesday but were back on their way home early after a slow drizzle turned into a downpour and hail.
“It slowed down for a while and we tried to get the meet in, but about 4:30 p.m. it just dumped and started hailing — it was time to call it at that point,” said Del Norte head coach Jason Zeigler.
Before the worst of Wednesday’s storm arrived, the Humboldt-Del Norte League was able to get in about half of the events of a typical track meet, but many of the field events, most of the sprints, and several other events had to be canceled.
Zeigler said many athletes from all of the participating schools elected not to compete in events because conditions were far from ideal.
“It was freezing,” said junior Kaleya Sanchez. “Your muscles start to cramp up and you are trying to get warm — but there is no way to get warm when it is windy and rainy.”
Del Norte managed to turn in a few strong performances before the meet was called, however. Both the Warrior boys and girls teams finished in second place in the team standings. The boys finished six points behind Fortuna, while the girls were tied with Eureka behind the Huskies. Without many of the events and several of the top athletes, Zeigler said the team standings don’t really tell much.
“It is one of those things that I am not looking at the results,” Zeigler said. “I’m just happy that they were down there competing to the best of their abilities. I think they were genuinely having a little bit of fun too. They made the best of it.”
In all the Warrior boys had three first place finishers out of the eight events that were scored, to go along with three runner-up finishes. The Del Norte girls also had a first place finish, along with a pair of second place finishes in just seven events.
Luke King took first place in the boys shot put with a throw of 38-09.00 — just ahead of teammates Sam Martinez (33-02) and Blane Winningham (31-02) who took second and third.
Ethan Price edged out second place teammate Collin Mattz for the high jumping crown by two inches with a jump of 5-04.
Aaron Young also grabbed first place in the 110 meter hurdles with time of 19.70.
For the girls, Katherine Martinez turned in the Warriors’ top finish of the day with a first place finish in the 100 meter hurdles. Despite poor conditions, Martinez ran a season-best time of 18.22 seconds in the event.
The Del Norte girls also had a couple second place finishes in the field events, both coming from Kaleya Sanchez.
Sanchez is one of the top jumpers in the league this year, but on Wednesday she decided to try her hand at throwing the shot put. Sanchez said she learned that she had a knack for the event when she first picked up the shot last week.
“One day we were just messing around at track practice, and I don’t know, Zeigler told me I threw farther than most the girls,” Sanchez said. “He said I should try it in a meet so I did.”
Sanchez’s throw of 24-08 was good enough for second place overall out of the throwers, and Zeigler said he hopes she will be in the low to mid 30s soon.
Sanchez’s first foray into the shot put wasn’t without its hiccups, however.
“On my first throw I scratched because no one told me that I need to move to the back of the ring, so I walked in front,” Sanchez said. “It was also rainy, so I feel like there are probably some girls who would have thrown farther than me, but it was fun. All the girls there were pretty chill and nice.”
Sanchez also took second place in the long jump with a mark of 14-03. Sanchez is one of the top jumpers in the league this year in the high jump and triple jump, along with the long jump, but all the girls in the HDN have been stuck chasing Fortuna’s Katie Hurst. Hurst is one of the top ranked jumpers in the entire state.
“For me it just makes me mad,” Sanchez said about competing against the springy jumper form Fortuna. “I am very competitive, so I like to win, so it just makes me mad.”
Castle Rock also braved the rough weather, and in all four Sharks were able to get out and compete before the meet was called off.
Jedediah Kirsch picked up his first victory at a league meet, winning the 3,200 meter run in a time of 11:48.60. Castle Rock head coach Jennifer Larson said Kirsch was weaving all over the track throughout the two-mile run in order to avoid puddles of water that were accumulating.
Julia Runnion finished in third place overall for Castle Rock in the 100 meter hurdles, despite a sketchy start to the race.
“I think she may have hydro-planed going over the first hurdle and had a little crash, but she got up and finished,” Larson said. “So that was exciting. She was such a trooper to agree to participate in that event.”
Del Norte will be back in action today at perhaps its most competitive meet of the regular season — The Prefontaine Invitational at Marshfield High School.
“It is one of the more fun and one of the more prestigious meets that we go to,” Zeigler said. “I’m excited because we are taking a big team. We are taking 26 athletes this year, which is almost double what we took last year. It should be exciting. It will be interesting to see how they compete against the kids in Oregon. Usually our kids have some of their best times at that meet just because there is good competition.”
Castle Rock will have over a week off before getting back out on the track to compete in the fourth and final Humboldt-Del Norte League meet of the regular season in McKinleyville on April 25.
With exactly two weeks between competitive meets, Larson said the most important thing for the Castle Rock team will be to keep its athletes engaged, in shape, and having fun.
“A couple athletes want to take a look at some events that they are not familiar with,” Larson said. “So just to keep it fresh, exciting, and to keep people motivated we are going to try to cover some new ground.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .