By Ray Hamill — The hard work is clearly paying off for Fortuna senior Connor Pratt.
Last week, the Huskies standout committed his athletic future to Sac State, where he will run track for the Hornets after graduation.
Pratt is one of several recent Fortuna track and field athletes to take their careers to the collegiate Division-I level, following in the footsteps of former Huskies like Jevin Kitchen, who also competed for Sac State, as well as Camrin Dolcini, who will join the University of Nevada team in the fall.
“For Humboldt County to have that many athletes competing at the Division-I level is great,” Fortuna head coach Norm Sotomayor said. “And it’s great for our younger kids to see that success.”
Pratt has been inspiring his younger teammates in more ways than that.
He has posted the fastest time in the H-DNL in three events this season, including the 100 meters and as part of the 4x100m and 4x400m relays teams, and he will be heavily favored to secure multiple first places at this weekend’s league championships.
And, according to his coaches, he got there through hard work.
“Some athletes are born with natural talent and others have to work hard, and Connor, he was born with talent definitely, but he’s worked harder than anyone,” Sotomayor said.
During the long COVID shutdown and through all the uncertainty, Pratt continued to prepare for seasons in football and track, and his perseverance has paid off.
The Fortuna senior had a hugely successful season in football this spring, where he helped the Huskies to a 4-1 campaign and was named an all-league honorable mention.
Since then, he has been almost unbeatable on the track, setting the fastest time in league this season in the 100m, winning the event at all three league meets.
He also has been a part of both the 4x100m and the 4x400m Huskies relay teams, which have won five of the six combined league races they have competed in.
Sac State, however, will be a big step up.
“My goal is to just keep working as hard as I can and be as dedicated an athlete as I can,” he said.
Pratt, who wants to major in Political Science/Journalism, had planned on attending Sac State for academic reasons, when he realized he might be able to compete there as well.
“I was going there for school and I was looking at their times, and I was pretty close,” he said. “So I emailed them.”
His assertiveness paid off.
“Connor reached out to their coach, and he said that if he could run an 11-3 or 11-4 in the 100 he’d be in the running for their last spot,” Sotomayor said.
His fastest time in the 100m has been 11.34 seconds, good enough to impress the Sac State coaches.
“I emailed their coach and told him he was getting a great athlete and an even better person,” Sotomayor said. “He’s just one of the nicest kids I know.”
Pratt got the news two weeks ago, the same day he also heard that he was receiving an academic scholarship to attend Sac State.
Before he heads off, however, the Fortuna senior is looking to close out his high school career on a winning note this weekend, while helping his team to a league win.
And his rivalry with McKinleyville senior Isaac Ward has been beneficial for both sprinters.
“My goal this week is to just to push myself in the 100 and the 200,” Pratt said. “I have a great competitor in Isaac. We just push each other.”
Saturday’s 100m should be a good one, with little between the two rivals all season.
Ward got the better of exchanges between the two at the early-season Panther Relays, but Pratt has won all three league races since then.
As for what he’ll remember most from his time at Fortuna High?
“A little bit of everything,” he said. “The coaches have been there for me every single day supporting me, and just my teammates who were always pushing me.
“Fortuna’s like a family to me. I made a lot of great bonds here.”
Saturday’s meet will be held at Fortuna High and gets under way at noon.