By Ray Hamill — Collin Stockwell left no doubt as to who was the best runner in the H-DNL this year, placing first at the league cross country championships on Friday afternoon.
Competing in wet and slippery conditions at the Eureka Municipal Golf Course, the senior standout closed out a stellar prep career by winning for the fourth time in four races this season, finishing in a time of 16 minutes, 41 seconds.
Eureka’s Ian Bennett was second, finishing 42 seconds back in a time of 17:23.
Stockwell’s big showing led the Huskies to a team win, with 26 points, just four better than the Eureka Loggers.
“Collin definitely drove himself the entire season,” Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes said. “He really put all of us on his back this year. He had a great year.”
The Fortuna and Eureka boys have battled back and forth all season, and afterwards Eureka head coach Matt Messner had nothing but praise for the Huskies.
“Fortuna ran a great race,” Messner said. “Those guys really ran hard. Definitely a big congratulations to them.”
There was little to separate the two teams, who between them accounted for the top-nine runners on the day.
Fortuna’s Antonio Garcinuno was third in a time of 17:45, followed by Eureka’s Kaelen Docherty (17:51) and Fortuna’s Logan Calvert (17:53).
Eureka’s Thomas Becannon and Daniel Shaver, Fortuna’s Braiden Barsanti and Adam Calvert, and McKinleyville’s Damian Dinan rounded out the top 10.
Overall, the shortened season was viewed as a successful one, especially in light of all that has gone on with local sports because of the pandemic.
“I was really impressed with all the runners from all the schools,” Holmes said. “The sportsmanship was outstanding, and there was that vibe of being the first team sport back after COVID.”
The slippery conditions on Friday took their toll on several runners, with both Stockwell and Bennett falling.
That. however, didn’t slow them down much.
Fortuna’s Sergio Marquez placed 11th, followed in turn by Eureka’s Jordan Urban, Fortuna’s Angel Ornelas, McKinleyville’s Cody Rheinschmidt, Arcata’s Daniel Johnson, Eureka’s Wyatt Zerlang and Nolan Jacobus, McKinleyville’s Ryan Bray, Arcata’s Lucas Blair, Will Salamunovich, Andrew Trieu and Conrad Stemier, and McKinleyville’s Aiden Davis.
“I thought they did really well,” Arcata head coach James Washington said of his young boys team, which had four of its top runners opt out this season. “They’re all young and they all gave 110 percent and I can’t complain about that.
“The good thing is they’re in good shape for track and they’re in good shape for cross country in the fall.”
Fortuna’s Cayden Danbrauskas was first home in the JV race, followed by Arcata’s Spencer Krueger and Eureka’s Ben Gomersall.
The Fortuna boys also won the JV competition, with Eureka second and Arcata third.
For a report on the girls race, see Macdonald sisters take top three spots at league meet …