The Del Norte track and field team sent 16 of its top athletes to Coos Bay, Oregon on Saturday for the Prefontaine Invitational for the teams first look at a large track meet as the regular season winds down.

“The level (of competition) is a lot greater than what we see at our local meets because it is an invitational, and Oregon schools are very competitive,” said Del Norte assistant coach Dave Boker. “The Humboldt-Del Norte League actually did quite well there, but from top to bottom it is a lot deeper competition than what we see at the local meets. It is really important for the younger kids to see these meets.”

For many of the Warriors younger athletes, the Prefontaine Invitational is the largest meet they have attended. Boker said it provides valuable experience for athletes hoping to compete in a North Coast Section meet later this spring.

“As we get ready to go down to Redwood Empire, our NCS qualifier, if they haven’t seen a big meet they can be kind of awe-struck when they go to the meet and they don’t compete at their best,” Boker said. “We saw it up there. The freshmen and sophomores who had never been to a big meet were walking around and checking everything out. That took away some of their attention away from their competition. So hopefully they will be able to take that experience and use it to their advantage when we go down to the Redwood Empire meet.”

As a team, the Del Norte girls came in 10th place overall out of 26 teams competing with 24 team points. The Warrior boys scored four team points at the meet.

“The kids competed well and they all worked really hard at it,” Boker said. “We didn’t have a lot of high places because there are a lot of high quality competitors that we went up against. But the kids efforts were very good, their attitudes were great, and they competed. It wasn’t great weather, but everyone buckled down and tried the best that they could. That was really nice to see.”

Del Norte was led by senior Katherine Martinez, who accounted for most of the Warrior girls 24 team points.

Martinez tied her personal record by clearing 11 feet in the pole vault, finishing in a tie for second place in the event. Martinez also finished in fourth place in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 50.85. She came in sixth overall in a close 100 meter hurdle finish in which each of the top six hurdlers were within 0.81 seconds of each other.

It was a good day in the pole vault overall for Del Norte.

Bryce Howard cleared 12 feet in the pole vault for the second time this year to take sixth place in the boys competition. Howard was the only Warrior boy to score points in Coos Bay.

“Both Bryce and Katherine had really nice attempts at 12-06 and 11-06 (respectively) but knocked it off coming down,” said Boker, who serves as the pole vaulting coach.

Teresa Martinez finished in sixth place for Del Norte in the girls pole vault with a jump of 7-06.

Both Katherine Martinez and Howard are the defending HDN champions in the pole vault. Howard’s personal best jump in the event is 12-07, which came in his last meet of the season last year.

With the postseason set to kick off with the Humboldt-Del Norte County Prelims in less than two weeks, pole vaulting coach Dave Boker said all the Warriors athletes are starting to hone in on maximizing their heights in the event.

“It is getting to that time of the year, if we can ever get some weather, that we can really start competing, and starting to see those strides from here on out,” Boker said. “With all the kids we are trying to lengthen their run so that they have more momentum going into their vault. By lengthening their run we will be able to get them onto bigger poles, which will take them up to higher heights. So our major goal from here on forward is to be consistent with our long runs so that they have more speed going into their approach.”

The only other Del Norte athletes to score team points competed on the girls 4x100 meter relay team. Alyssa McCovey, Katherine Martinez, Claire Taylor and Tianna Thompson teamed up for a sixth place finish 53.03 seconds

Tianna Thompson took fourth place in the 200 meter dash with a time of 27.85. Thompson also finished 10th in the 100 meter dash and 13th in the 400 meter dash.

Alyssa McCovey took 11th in the 200 meter dash with a new personal best time of 28.85.

Maykala Jackson finished in 10th place in the high jump (4-04) and took 13th in the triple jump with a personal record of 29-08.75.

Luke King took eighth place in the shot put for Del Norte with a throw of 44-07. Sam Cowan finished 10th in the 100 meter dash in 12.05.

Del Norte is scheduled to be back in action today with the final Humboldt-Del Norte League meet of the regular season. Although Fortuna is scheduled to host the meet, only the pole vault will be held in Fortuna, starting at 2 p.m.

The rest of the meet will be held at College of the Redwoods in Eureka with field events scheduled to start at 3 p.m., followed by running events on the track at 3:30 p.m.