The Del Norte track and field team had a total of 13 athletes competing in 17 events in Santa Rosa at the Redwood Empire Track and Field meet on Saturday. Four of those Warriors managed to place in the top seven at the area track meet to solidify a spot on the North Coast Section Meet of Champions starting on Friday at the University of California-Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium.
“Overall we performed well,” said Del Norte head coach Jason Zeigler. “Humboldt and Del Norte counties really represented well down there. We had four kids move on to MOC and we had some good performances that just barely missed.”
Del Norte had two boys and two girls qualify to move on in one event apiece on Saturday: Katherine Martinez led the way with a fourth place finish in the pole vault; Ethan Price took fifth place in the high jump; Carolyn Cochran finished seventh in the discus, and Bryce Howard also took seventh in the pole vault.
Del Norte’s Aaron Young ended up in eighth place in the triple jump — just two inches short of seventh place. Price ended up in ninth place in the triple jump and three inches behind seventh.
Luke King and Timothy Thompson also finished in ninth place in the shot put and discus respectively, and the sophomores ended up just short of moving on.
Martinez cleared 10-6 in the pole vault to claim Del Norte’s highest place of the day.
“I was surprised that I was up there,” she said. “Last year I got second but that was because there wasn’t as much competition. Last year the girl who won was way above me and I was about four feet behind her. It was kind of cool to have more people to compete with.”
Bryce Howard matched his personal best jump in the pole vault for the second meet in a row by clearing 12-6. That was enough to secure the final qualifying spot for the Meet of Champions.
Howard said he was happy to move on but was hoping to set a new PR, which would have vaulted him up the final standings. Howard finished 6 inches behind fifth place, and a foot behind third place.
“It could have been better,” Howard said. “I just wasn’t with it when I moved up to 13 feet. I need to start practicing that this week, and get my mindset on to getting 13 or 13-6 for this weekend.”
Cochran had a bit of deja vu on Saturday, finishing in seventh place in the discus and grabbing the Redwood Empire’s final automatic qualifying bid in the event for the second year in a row.
“It was once again a very nerve-wracking experience,” Cochran said. " Like last year, Cochran wasn’t in the top group at the Redwood Empire meet, instead throwing with group two of three. Once again Cochran was able to throw well enough to get into the finals anyway.
“The ring was pretty slick in the finals, so I didn’t do so well there,” Cochran said.
“But your throws from the pre-finals carry over and luckily my throw was good enough. My warm up throws were a lot better than what I actually threw, but that is typical.”
Price said he was nervous at the start of the high jump at his first Redwood Empire meet, but those worries started to subside as he watched the competition unfold.
“I was really worried about being in the top seven, and then I started to realize that some of the kids were having trouble clearing 5-8 and my confidence boosted a lot,” he said.
Price ended up matching his personal best jump of 6-foot on his second attempt and was almost able to set a new PR.
“I felt really good about 6-2, but I clipped it on the way down,” he said.
If Price had been able to clear 6-2 he would have vaulted into third place and within an inch of second place.
Zeigler said he was also impressed with Sam Cowan, who shaved another 0.21 seconds off of his 100 meter dash time for his second straight PR in as many meets.
“Sam Cowan had a big-time personal best,” Zeigler said. “He has been working harder and getting better. The thing with him is when there is more competition he does better. He is one of those kids that doesn’t want to get beat.”
It was also the last meet in the career of senior thrower Shekai Reyes who turned in her best effort of the season in the discus with a throw of 95-08.
Most of Del Norte’s athletes competing in Santa Rosa will be back next season for the Warriors.
“They had a blast,” Zeigler said. “It was a fun experience for all of them. We had three seniors going down, so that’s 10 younger kids that got that big meet experience. They got a chance to see that speed and see that competition that they don’t get to see a lot up here. We did fairly well, especially for how young we are. Taking that many young kids and doing that well looks good for the future.”
Castle Rock at Class A
The Sharks were planning on taking Julia Runnion and Victoria Montecello to Montgomery High School for the North Coast Section Class A meet, but Castle Rock got good news last week when it learned fellow freshman Azyah Kazmierczak was also able to earn bids in the shot put and discus.
“He was able to go with us due to some last-minute scratches and it was a great experience for him,” said Castle Rock head coach Jennifer Larson. “He had a great time.”
Runnion ended up with the best finish of the day for the Sharks, placing fifth in the 100 meter hurdles. Monticello took eighth place in the discus and 19th place in the 400, finishing with PRs in both events.
“For these three freshmen to see that level of competition, with that level of athlete was really exciting,” Larson said. “They were inspired, and they did a great job.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .