H-DN numbers on the rise again after challenging few years

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Jamin Guilbert won both the shot put and discus at last weekend’s league championships.

By Ray Hamill — H-DN track and field appears to be firmly putting COVID-19 in the rear view mirror.

The pandemic had a hugely detrimental effect on all local sports and 2023 high school seniors have endured a challenging sports career to say the least.

But we are seeing a lot of positive signs again, including large numbers competing in H-DN track and field this season.

“More kids are coming out,” Eureka head coach Scott Pesch said. “They’re coming out of their rooms, and it’s great to see.”

The Loggers won both the boys and girls team pennants at last week’s league championships in Fortuna and will send 26 athletes on to compete at the North Coast Section championships this weekend.

Their team depth played a huge role in clinching both titles, with 72 athletes on this year’s team, which is well up from the 60 or so a year ago.

But it’s not just the Loggers who are seeing a greater number of athletes competing and there were close to 400 student athletes at the league meets this spring.

“It’s good to see the numbers up,” Pesch said. “And you can see the same thing with the Del Norte team and also Arcata had their numbers up.”

Eureka’s success has been founded on the strength of their distance runners and throwers in particular, including the outstanding Jamin Guilbert, who set a new school record on his way to a huge victory in the boys discus at last week’s championships.

Guilbert’s throw of 174’4” is the best in the NCS this year and it guarantees him qualification for this year’s state championships.

Remarkably, the H-DN also has three of the top four throws in the NCS in the shot put, including Derek Ray’s at No. 1, Guilbert second and Eureka’s Joseph Gonzalez fourth.

Pesch is quick to point out the role his assistant coaches have played in the team’s success, including throwing coach Dan Gallardo.

“He’s done such a good job with anybody that’s come into our program,” the head coach said. “He’s the reason they’re having the seasons they’re having.”

Pesch also paid tribute to the H-DN seniors who have endured a challenging career, especially those that stuck with it through the hard times.

“These kids have shown some resiliency through COVID to get to where they are,” he said. “And myself and the assistant coaches are proud of them. They worked hard for four years.”

Joseph Gonzalez

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