The Del Norte track and field team fell short of a team championship at the Humboldt-Del Norte League Championships in Eureka on Saturday, but the Warriors had six athletes capture a combined seven individual championships including six first place finishes in field events. Del Norte finished the day with a total of 16 medalists, awarded to the top three finishers in each event.
“I think we did very well. We ended up with 17 kids down there and won seven White Stars,” said Del Norte head coach Jason Zeigler.
The Del Norte boys had a few athletes that had to pull out of events at the last minute due to the schedule. Aaron Young had to pull out of both the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles in order to finish up the pole vault and the triple jump while sprinter Keen Penkian had to scratch out of the 200 meter dash. Zeigler said that largely eliminated the Warriors’ chances of closing the gap with eventual league champion McKinleyville.
“We lost quite a few points there, but overall I thought we did well,” Zeigler said. “We scored well in the events that we ran and we had a ton of PRs.”
Fortuna won the team championship for the girls. Del Norte came in fourth place behind Arcata and McKinleyville.
Ethan Price was the most prolific individual in Eureka for Del Norte, winning both the high jump and the triple jump. Price was the only jumper to clear 5-8 at the finals, so with first place already in hand the junior went straight for a new personal record, trying to clear 6-2.
“I was pretty close,” Price said. “I hit the bar at the end with my ankle, so I just didn’t flip fast enough.”
In the triple jump, Price said he messed up his steps on the last two jumps, but cleared 40 feet for the first time with both jumps, finishing with a new PR of 40-5.
“I usually jump off of my right foot, but I kept hitting the board with my left foot so I just went with it because I didn’t want to scratch,” Price said. “I just went for it and I went 40 feet — that caught me off guard.”
Price ended up edging out teammate Aaron Young, who also set a new PR with a jump of 39-11, for the triple jump crown.
Young was also in a close battle for a White Star in the pole vault with junior teammate Bryce Howard. Howard matched his personal best jump by clearing 12-6, but Young added 1.5 feet to his PR to match Howard’s best jump.
“At the beginning we both went back and forth — he would clear a height, then I would clear a height,” Howard said. “At the end of it, it all came down to how many scratches we had.”
Howard ended up clearing 12-6 on his second attempt, while Young cleared the bar on his third attempt. Neither Warrior was able to clear 13 feet, though Howard said Young came close. After finishing at the same height, Howard was declared the winner due to clearing the final height in two attempts.
“It was a really fun experience,” Howard said. “I would rather win it that way than beat everybody by 2 feet.”
Vova Sherman also found himself in a close contest in the 200 meter dash. Sherman said he was feeling a little tired after running the 400 meter dash, but McKinleyville’s Ryan Dolan pushed Sherman all the way to the finish line. Sherman was eventually declared the winner with a time of 23.68, edging out Nolan by .05 seconds.
“I was so happy because the race was intense,” Sherman said. “We were really close. He was right next to me and the guy who announced it said it was too hard to tell. I was thinking that he had won because he is taller and can reach his head farther, but I guess I won.”
Sherman also finished in second place in the 400 meter dash to qualify for the North Coast Section Redwood Empire Meet on Saturday.
Luke King rounded out the first place finishes for the Warrior boys with a new personal best throw of 44-.05.5 in the shot put, to win the event by nearly six fee6.
King has been a mainstay at the top of the shot put throughout the HDN season, so he said he felt confident heading into the meet.
“I went in feeling pretty good,” King said. “I was aiming for 45 feet, and I didn’t quite get what I was aiming for, but it was still a pretty good throw.”
King’s White Star was the first of his high school athletic career.
“It feels really good,” King said. “White Starring in any sport is something that I have always looked forward to. It is a good feeling to know that you are the best at what you do. Also, having an older brother (Ethan King) who was as good at sports as he was, it is nice to start to live up to his name too.”
The Del Norte girls also ended up with a White Star thrower in senior Carolyn Cochran. Cochran seems to have saved her best for last this season, with a new PR of 109-04 — five feet farther than her previous best throw this season. It was also Cochran’s first time taking first place at a meet this year.
“It has been a long year and it was kind of nice to end with the White Star I have been chasing for the last four years,” Cochran said. “Raili (Makela) got it last year, and I was really happy for her, but I was really going for it this year so I am just happy that I was able to pull a 109.”
Although Cochran has been one of the top throwers in the league for the past couple years, it was the senior’s first ever White Star.
“I was working really hard in practice last week and everything is just starting to click again like it is supposed to,” she said. “It means so much to me. I’m just really happy that I was able to achieve one of my goals this year as a senior with two or three weeks left of school.”
Del Norte’s Katherine Martinez was the Warriors’ only repeat champion, winning the pole vault for the second year in a row by clearing 11 feet.
Senior Sam Cowan came close to a White Star in the 100 meter dash before ultimately coming in second. Cowan ran a new PR of 12.03 seconds to finish just 0.03 behind McKinleyville’s Stephen Watrous.
Cowan also teamed up with Sherman, Penkian and Shaun Wamsley to finish in second place in the 4x100 meter relay.
Kaleya Sanchez finished as the runner up in both the long jump and the triple jump, where she set a new PR with a 35-08.
Caoline Hamm and Tim Thompson both picked up medals in the discus with third place finishes in the girls and boys competitions respectively. Sam Martinez also earned a medal for his third place throw in the shot put.
Castle Rock also had a pair of athletes in action at the HDN Finals. Freshman Julia Runnion finished in fifth place overall in the 100 meter hurdles, while classmate Victoria Monticello came in seventh in the discus.
Del Norte will be back in action on Saturday at the Redwood Empire Track and Field Championships at Santa Rosa High School starting at 9 a.m. Castle Rock will have a couple athletes competing in the NCS Class A Meet, also on Saturday, at Montgomery High School.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .