By Ray Hamill — Like the rest of the Humboldt-Del Norte League, the Eureka Loggers will go into Wednesday’s track and field meet at McKinleyville High with one eye on the upcoming league championships.
And like the rest of the H-DNL, they’ve been building all season for those league championships, with several leading individual contenders on a team that appears to be headed in the right direction.
“We’ve been building the program back up and getting the numbers back up,” said first-year head coach Scott Pesch, the former Humboldt State track coach. “We’ve got some real good seniors and also some sophomores. We’ve got some good individuals.”
The Loggers feature a team of 75 athletes, split almost equally between boys and girls, with the boys team winning the second league meet of the season two weeks ago at McKinleyville.
Senior sprinter Conor Barres has been leading the way and has the fastest 100 meters time of the spring in the H-DNL and the second fastest in the 200m, while Hunter Ethridge, another senior, has been one of the top performers in the 400m, posting the third fastest league time.
Sophomore Ian Bennett also has been one of the team’s standout performers, posting the top league time in the 800m and third fastest in the 1600m, not that far off the pace of Fortuna’s Collin Stockwell and McKinleyville’s Adam Vera in what is a loaded field.
“Ian Bennett has been phenomenal,” Pesch said.
One ace the Eureka boys have up their sleeve going into the stretch run of the season is the return of Nathaniel Spears who is just coming back from injury and appears ready for a strong stretch run.
Spears is a dual threat, having posted the best league mark in the long jump this spring and the second best in the 110m hurdles.
The Loggers have some depth in the long jump, with Ethridge also posting third best league mark in the event.
The Eureka boys also should be a threat in the 4×400 relay, with the quartet of Josh Korenstein, Harry Pardoe, Danny Ye and Barres posting the second best league mark this year, not far off the pace of the Mack boys.
Fort the girls, Tiana Rodgers continues to be a force for Eureka in the sprints with the third fastest league time of 2019 in both the 100m and 200m, while seniors Olivia Stone and Anya Watson give the Loggers two top-three challengers in the 400m, behind only Fortuna’s Lexy Roberts.
“We’ve got a lot of good sprinters, boys and girls,” Pesch said.
The head coach also likes what he’s seen from senior Sydney Panarra in the sprints and hurdle events, while Ellie Pesch, daughter of the head coach, has been one of the top freshman this spring in the 300m hurdles.
The girls 4×400 relay of Kristin Bonomini, Sophia Chalmers, Watson and Stone also has impressed and has the second fastest league time of the spring behind only a very impressive Arcata quartet.
The coach admits his team is still working on some things, like much of the league, as they gear up for the league championships.
“We’re just fine tuning like everyone else,” he said.
One thing that has impressed him about the team, however, is the athletes’ demeanor and work ethic.
“You know, I’d say this group has got some really good culture right now,” he said. “The kids are working really hard. And the culture at Eureka is just really good.”