The Del Norte track and field season officially came to a close on Saturday as Bryce Howard took 14th place in the pole vault, just before rain started to fall at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. The rain caused the pole vault to be postponed until Monday when the remaining competitors finished out the event to officially bring the North Coast Section Meet of Champions to a close.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Howard said. “I didn’t have to deal with the rain.”

Howard said he felt good through warm ups but ended up running into trouble, trying to clear his opening height.

“As the competition started up I was pretty confident, but unfortunately on my opening height I wasn’t doing to well,” Howard said. “So I had to go out on a limb on my last attempt at the first height to try to get over. I was pretty nervous, but I got myself to get over it, which was pretty cool.”

Howard ended up clearing 12-01, which was his second highest jump of the year by an inch in what turned out to be his best jump of the day.

Although Howard was hoping to reach or exceed his personal record of 12-08 at the Meet of Champions, he said it felt good to get over 12 feet.

“It is really nerve wracking,” Howard said. “You don’t think about it at these home meets but when you get to the big ones with all these other kids you are trying to represent where you are from. Coming from a small town — that barely anyone knows of because everybody thinks that San Fransisco is right on the border of Oregon — I want to show them that we have kids that will compete just and do well just like everyone else down here in the Bay Area.”

Howard said he felt good going into his attempts at 12-07, but after the first jump the nerves came back.

“The first attempt I was confident, but on the second one I got onto myself too much and couldn’t get out of this holding pattern, so I ran out of time,” Howard said. “So on my third attempt I just had to get over my nervousness. Unfortunately since I never had that practice jump on my second attempt, it didn’t set me up well for my third attempt.”

Howard said the Meet of Champions was also a good learning experience, as he was able to pick up some techniques and tricks that he hopes can help him reach even higher heights in the future in an extremely technical event.

“For pole vault there are a lot of little pieces that you have to start looking for as you get to these higher heights. It all comes down to these little things,” Howard said. “In the beginning you need to be able to run, jump, and have some strength to you. But as you get to the higher heights and bigger competitions you have to start nitpicking at the smaller things that you don’t notice as much — but those little things help you to achieve more.

“As I was watching the other kids warm up and vault I started picking up a few things here and there that I need to work on. That is the fun thing about these meets.”

Howard was one of two Warrior athletes who competed at the Meet of Champions this season. King ended up finishing in seventh place in the shot put, which was held on Friday.

Both King and Howard are juniors this year, and will have another season to compete.

“It is cool that we have Luke and Bryce coming back next year,” said Del Norte head coach Jeff Cook. “Bryce has been to the Meet of Champions two years in a row now. Next year they will be going in as seniors and hoping to get to state. I know they have big goals.”

Howard said he has his sights set on an 11-year old school record for next season.

“I’m just going to keep shooting for those higher heights. For my seniors year I’m going to start trying to shoot for those records that we have in the gym,” Howard said. “One of the guys that I sometimes work with, Taylor Duncan, holds the school record in the pole vault at 14-06. I started looking at that, and where I have been attempting heights in practice and I feel like I am not that far away. So I need to try and strive to achieve the same as he did before, or try to get higher. That is what I’m looking forward to for my senior year.”

Although the Warriors will lose a few standout senior athletes, including Ethan Price and Katherine Martinez, Cook said he believes the future of the Del Norte track team looks bright after a strong season for the team’s underclassmen.

“I think the season went pretty much as we expected,” Cook said. “We were actually really young. Someone told me that this was the most freshmen that we have ever had finish the season. So the future looks good.”

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