The entire Humboldt-Del Norte League was in Crescent City on Saturday to kick off track and field’s postseason at the HDN prelims. Athletes were competing for both a spot in the HDN finals in Eureka next week, and for a spot in the upcoming North Coast Section meets.
Del Norte had 13 boys qualify for the county finals in a total of 25 different entries while the 14 Warrior girls qualified for 14 entries.
“Overall we have pretty good numbers moving on,” said Del Norte head coach Jason Zeigler. “A few of the younger kids just didn’t have great days and some other kids PRed to change the field around a little bit. Overall we did well, though, with a lot of kids moving on to the league championship. We will have a chance at a boys championship too. That should be a close competition.”
The Del Norte boys team finished in second place overall with 145 team points, finishing 13 points behind McKinleyville and 61 points ahead of third-place Fortuna.
“A lot of it will have to do with our runners moving up a couple places,” Zeigler said. “Our field events were pretty top notch, so our runners will have to move up a little bit in order to win a league championship. It is basically just us against McKinleyville, so it will come down to who has a better day.”
The Del Norte girls came in fourth overall with 91 team points.
“I’m looking to be in the middle of the pack,” Zeigler said. “Second place would be really good for us. McKinleyvlle is strong; Arcata is strong, and Fortuna is strong, so it is a tough league. We have good girls, and we are good in the field events, so it will be interesting to see where we fall.”
Many of Del Norte’s athletes who will be moving on to the league finals also qualified to compete in the NCS Redwood Empire meet.
“They are doing it a little bit differently this year,” Zeigler said of earning a bid to the section meet. “They will take the top four placers from each event as automatic qualifiers. Then they take the rest of the athletes in the whole section and take the top eight marks as at-large bids.”
Zeigler said he isn’t sure how the at-large bids will work out, but Del Norte already knows that it will be taking at least 10 boys in 20 events to Redwood Empire, while five girls in eight events have also qualified.
Castle Rock also had a handful of athletes move on to the league finals and the NCS Class A meet. Freshman Julia Runnion took fifth place overall in the 100 meter hurdles for a spot in the HDN finals and was also the fastest finisher out of the small schools to grab the HDN’s top qualifying spot in the Class A meet.
“She is so excited. We have two weeks to try to get a three-step transition down,” said Castle Rock head coach Jennifer Larson. “She is after the Castle Rock school record, which is held by Caitlin Luna. She is a couple hundredths of a second off of that, so that has been some motivation for her.”
Fellow freshman Victoria Monticello also qualified for both meets in the discus with a seventh place finish. Monticello was also 11th overall in the 400 meter run, which put her into the field for the Class A meet.
“She has got an interesting mix, throwing the shot, the disc and the 400,” Larson said. “She is just a super strong individual, and she is very excited about running whatever, whenever and wherever.”
The Sharks nearly had another NCS qualifier in freshman Azyah Kazmierczak, who finished in fourth place out of the small schools in the discus, and took fifth place in the small schools shot put.
“He was really banking on a PR,” Larson said. “He is only a freshman, though, so he knows what he needs to work on for next year.”
Although Monticello and Runnion will both continue to compete for at least two more weeks, the rest of the record-setting Castle Rock team’s season is now at an end.
“We had the biggest Castle Rock team that we have ever had this year with four boys and four girls starting and ending the season,” Larson said. “We have been able to try out a couple new events that we have never had anyone compete in before. There is a lot of hype at the school and the word is getting out that this is a fun opportunity.”
Despite cold and windy weather, lots of Del Norte and Castle Rock athletes turned in some of their best marks of the season throughout the meet.
Del Norte junior Ethan Price set a new personal best mark in the high jump by clearing 6 feet to win the event, but he said he the conditions got to him a little bit early.
“It isn’t very good because you get tight and start cramping up,” Price said. “My quad was killing me for a minute, so I took my brother’s blanket and tried to just warm myself up.”
Price credits that blanket, along with a few pointers from his coaches, with helping him clear six feet for the first time.
Price also qualified for both the county finals and the Redwood Empire meet in the long jump, the triple jump, and the discus.
Although Price made use of a blanket to keep his muscles warm and loose, freshman Caroline Hamm used a run around the track to achieve the same effect. Hamm had to throw the discus immediately after competing in the 400 meter run.
“When I was running the 400 I wasn’t feeling too good,” Hamm said. “I was cramping up a little bit, so I was kind of nervous for the discus. But I got up here and it just came together. I was already warmed up for the disc.”
Hamm went out and dominated the discus with a throw of 111-09 to take first place in the event by over 9 feet. It was also a new PR for Hamm, who already holds the Del Norte freshman record in the event.
In the boys discus Timothy Thompson turned in perhaps the largest PR of the day with a throw of 127-08 to improve his best mark by nearly 14 feet, taking first place in the event.
“I have been practicing a lot,” Thompson said. “I’ve been staying later at practices, and I came way earlier today at about 10 a.m. and just got my footwork down. I felt a lot better; I just got my rhythm.”
Although Thompson took first place by over four feet at the prelims, he said he may need another PR in the county finals in order to hold off McKinleyville’s Sage Watrous De Salinas.
“I will probably need a 130,” Thompson guessed. “I know 127 won it for me today, but one of my good friends from McKinleyville has a PR of 129, and I’ll have to beat him. We are pretty close.”
Del Norte also got a first-place finish from sophomore Luke King in the shot put, one spot ahead of teammate Sam Martinez.
Aaron Young took first place in the triple jump, Bryce Howard won the pole vault, and Katherine Martinez won the girls pole vault at the meet.
For full results from the HDN prelims visit athletic.net.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .