The Fortuna Huskies appear to be the team to beat in H-DNL track and field this spring, as they continued their fast start to the new season by taking three of the four team events at the first official league meet at Fortuna on Wednesday.
The Huskies comfortably won the boys varsity event, scoring 186.5 points and easily out-distancing Eureka (91.5), Del Norte (88.5) and McKinleyville (75.5).
They also won the JV boys and JV girls events, the latter of which was held for the first time, while the Arcata Tigers won the girls varsity competition with 148.5 points, well ahead of Eureka (122), Del Norte (106) and McKinleyville (100.5).
“I have a pretty strong boys team,” Fortuna head coach Norm Sotomayor said. “We have a whole host of seniors leading the way for us.”
That group includes Connor Pratt, who is coming off a big season in football and won the 100 meters on Wednesday in a time of 11.21 seconds, edging out McKinleyville’s Isaac Ward, who had beaten him in the same event just four days earlier at the season-opening Panther Relays.
Ferndale’s Cayden Collings was third in the 100m, with Fortuna’s Levi Nyberg in fourth.
Ward fared better in the 200m, winning in a time 23.56 seconds, with Collings, Pratt and Arcata’s Aidan Shelton rounding out the top four.
McKinleyville’s Jayson Rodriquez took first in the 400m in a time of 57.88 seconds, less than a second ahead of Fortuna’s Braiden Barsanti in second, with Hoopa’s Gavyn Albers third.
Eureka’s Ian Bennett and Fortuna’s Collin Stockwell renewed their rivalry in both the 800m and 1600m, with the Loggers senior getting the victory in both races.
Bennett finished the 800m in a time of 2 minutes, 2.38 seconds, which was 11 seconds better than Stockwell and a PR, while he won the 1600m by 17 seconds in a time of 4:42.00.
Stockwell, according to his coach, wasn’t going full out.
“I’d say Collin is the frontrunner (in both events), but Ian is an outstanding competitor,” Sotomayor said. “I think those two will battle it out all season.”
“Ian ran an outstanding race,” Eureka coach Matt Messner said. “Ian ran both races aggressively and with confidence.”
Fortuna’s Adam Calvert was third in the 800m, with Eureka’s Thomas Becannon third in the 1600m.
The Calvert brothers, Adam and Logan, have been a huge addition for the Huskies.
On Wednesday, Adam placed first in the 3200m, with Logan second, followed by Eureka’s Daniel Shaver in third.
“They’re giving us depth in the distance races that we haven’t had,” Sotomayor said of the brothers, who ran cross country for the first time this spring.
McKinleyville’s Nathan Witte, meanwhile, placed first in both the 110m hurdles and 300m hurdles, with Eureka’s Jamie Ortiz second in both events.
Fortuna showcased its strength with victories in both boys relay events, with RJ Rexford, Pratt, Bo Cox and Nyberg teaming up to win the 4x100m, and Cox, Stockwell, Pratt and Nyberg placing first in the 4×400.
Cox was a four-time winner on the day, also placing first in the pole vault and triple jump.
He won the latter by more than six feet, with a jump of 41 feet, 01.5 inches.
“That was an outstanding jump,” Sotomayor said.
There was little to separate the top three in the pole vault, with Fortuna’s Tai Bolden second and Del Norte’s Gabe Howard in third, and Sotomayor expects the three of them to battle all season.
Fortuna freshman Russell Pascasio enjoyed an outstanding debut league meet, winning the high jump and placing second in both the triple jump and the long jump.
Bolden won the long jump, with Nyberg in third,
while Howard was second in the high jump, with Del Norte’s Jace Bergman in third.
Del Norte’s Blane Winningham won the shot put (39-00), followed by Hoopa’s Gerard Marshall and Eureka’s Joseph Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, took first in the discus (114-06), ahed of Winningham and Del Norte’s Kyland Minyard.
Arcata distance runners dominate again
Sotomayor expects a tight enough battle in league this year between the top four girls teams, although for now it appears as if the Arcata Tigers hold the edge thanks in large part to their distance runners.
“Arcata has some distance runners that are just incredible,” the Fortuna head coach said. “But Del Norte and McKinleyville, they’ve both got a lot of girls that are impressive. I think there’s a lot of balance between the top four teams.”
Arcata’s Macdonald sisters continued to dominate the distance events.
Mathilde took first in the 800m (2:34.24), with twin sister Anneli in second and Eureka’s Brynn Hales in third.
Anneli was first in the 1600 (5:33.0), with Mathilde second and younger sister Soquel in third.
Anneli also was first in the 3200m (11:13), ahead of Soquel in second and Eureka’s Charlotte Leonard in third.
McKinleyville’s Soffia Reyes, meanwhile, took first in the 100m in a time of 12.63 seconds, a third of a second ahead of Eureka’s Klayre Barres, with Del Norte’s Gianna Taylor in third and Eureka’s Emily Pesch in fourth.
Reyes was a three-time winner on the day, also placing first in the 200m in a time of 26.65 seconds, and teaming with Kathryn Tinney, Mackenzie Bray and Olivia Rink to win the 4×400 relay.
Barres was second in the 200m, with Del Norte’s Tianna Thompson second and Arcata’s Ai-Lan McGoldrick in fourth.
McGoldrick was first in the 400m (1:05.85), with Mathilde Macdonald second and Arcata’s Sophia Pulley in third.
Bray was a triple winner for the Panthers, also taking first in both hurdle races.
She timed a 17.84 in the 100m hurdles, edging out Eureka’s Ginny Brooks and Fortuna’s Samantha Bennett, and she timed a 51.06 in the 300m hurdles, with Brooks and Bennett again rounding out the top three.
Brooks had a big all-around day, teaming with Pesch, Hales and Barres to take first for Eureka in the 4×100 relay, and also placing first in the long jump with a jump of 14-02.
Taylor was second in the long jump, with Fortuna’s Skylar Little third.
Little was a double winner for the Huskies, winning both the high jump (4-08) and the triple jump (27-06).
The busy Barres was also second in the high jump, with Del Norte’s Teresa Martinez in third, while Del Norte’s Lily Sherman was second in the triple jump, with teammate Makayla Jackson in third.
Martinez won the pole vault with a jump of 8-00.
Del Norte’s Caleh King was also a double winner, placing first in the shot put (29-08) and the discus (89-11).
McKinleyville’s Kalyssa Claros was second in the shot put with Eureka’s Amaya Watson in third, while Fortuna’s Tristan Jones was second in the discus with Claros in third.
The next H-DNL meet will be held at McKinleyville next Wednesday.