By Ray Hamill — It was a big week for a pair of local track athletes and for four H-DNL teams who are playing for a little bit of league history this week.
And that makes them this week’s Humboldt Sports Athletes of the Week, sponsored by College of the Redwoods Athletics.
In track and field, McKinleyville’s Kalyssa Claros saved her best for last with a stunning performance at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions.
The H-DNL shot put champ placed fourth at the big meet and barely missed out on qualification for the CIF State Championships, while setting a new McKinleyville High School record.
CR freshman Hannah Hartwell also enjoyed an outstanding weekend, becoming a state JC champion in the women’s 5,000 meters, as well as placing third in the 1,500m.
Four H-DNL teams, meanwhile, are still enjoying their big weeks and hoping for more success.
The Eureka, McKinleyville and Hoopa girls all won their respective NCS semifinals in the section softball playoffs and will play for a championship on Friday night, as will the St. Bernard’s boys, who defeated South Fork in their NCS baseball semifinal.
And that makes all four of them our co-Teams of the Week.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
McKinleyville Track and Field, Junior
Claros finished the season on a higher note than any other H-DNL track and field athlete by placing fourth at the section Meet for Champions in Dublin on Saturday.
The Mack junior, who wasn’t even ranked in the event coming into the day, upset the odds with a huge performance and comfortably beat her previous top distance in the event with a throw of 36 feet, 2.5 inches, a new Panthers record.
All in all, it was an outstanding conclusion to the season for Claros, who should benefit from the experience and continue to get better, and potentially make it all the way to state next year.
For more on her big week, see Claros leads strong showing for H-DNL athletes at MOC …
College of the Redwoods Track and Field, Freshman
Hartwell has rewritten the record books at CR several times over the course of the season in the 800m, the 1,500m and the 5,000m, and she has enjoyed one of the greatest seasons ever for a CR athlete.
She capped her record-setting spring by becoming the first-ever Corsairs woman to win a state championship in track and field, according to head coach Reed Elmore.
The Carlsbad native spent one season running cross country at Humboldt State (now Cal Poly Humboldt) before transferring to CR and she has been a sensational recruit for a fast-growing CR program under the direction of Elmore.
For more on her big week, see Hartwell wins state championship for CR, Peterson places second …
TEAMS OF THE WEEK
St. Bernard’s Baseball
Take your pick as to which of these teams has been the most impressive.
All four will play for a section championship in either baseball or softball on Friday night and all four will play at home as the top seeds in their respective brackets.
If they all win, which is certainly possible, it will match the four section championships the H-DNL won in 2019 and the record three softball championships the league won that year.
That’s an incredible statistic for the H-DNL considering there are about 175 schools in the NCS and only six section crowns up for grabs in the two sports each year.
It has been another huge season for the league, especially in softball, and these teams deserve plenty of recognition for that.