By Ray Hamill — Once again we have no shortage of worthy candidates for our 2023 Big 5 Boys Athlete of the Year.
And once again, all five schools are represented among our eight finalists.
That includes two athletes from Eureka, two from Fortuna, two from McKinleyville and one each from Arcata and Del Norte.
As for the eight included, there is no doubt that all eight are worthy candidates and most of them are multi-sport standouts.
A big shoutout to Mendes Supply, DelReka Distributing and The Stove Doctors in McKinleyville for helping to sponsor this year’s awards and pay for the trophies.
Thanks to their generosity all of our award winners this year — including Big 5 girls and boys athletes of the year, Little 4 boys and girls athletes of the year, and H-DNL coach of the year and team of the year — will receive a trophy or plaque to commemorate their achievements.
Here then are our finalists for the 2023 Humboldt Sports Big 5 Boys Athlete of the Year.
Seven of the eight are seniors.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother Hayden, Rogan Bode was the recipient of this year’s prestigious Jay Willard Award as the Loggers senior athlete of the year.
Bode was not just an all-league selection in both football and baseball, but he was arguably the best player in league in both sports.
An elite H-DNL athlete for sure.
Few Panthers have ever achieved what Clancy did in his senior year as a member of the Mack football and basketball teams, each of which ended a decades old championship drought.
An all-league selection in both sports, Clancy has been a key starter on each of those teams for the past three years and will be difficult to replace.
(Payton Harbin was the only other starter on both of those history-making teams.)
Collins had a huge impact on a Fortuna baseball team that also ended a decades old championship drought and he was named Big 5 MVP.
He also received an honorable mention in both soccer and basketball while showcasing his all-around athletic talents, and was the 2023 Husky ESPYs Senior Male Athlete of the Year.
One of two all-league selections for the Loggers in football, Guilbert also was a key player for the school’s basketball team and capped a brilliant year with a record-setting spring in track and field.
Guilbert was a double league champion in the shot put and discus, while breaking the H-DNL record in the latter, and he would go on to place 10th at state in the discus after winning the event at the NCS Meet of Champions.
One of the best wrestlers the H-DNL has arguably seen in some time, Hannan capped a brilliant career with his second straight NCS title and a fifth-place finish at the CIF state championships.
Hannan will now wrestle for Clackamas Community College in Oregon, one of the most respected JC programs in the nation.
He’s the only one-sport athlete among our finalists, but his achievements in that one sport are just too good to overlook.
The only junior on our list of finalists, Pascascio was one of the top local athletes in two sports this past year.
He was named all-league in basketball after playing such a key role for a very competitive Fortuna team, and he followed that with a pair of league championships in track and field in the high jump and triple jump.
Ray was a force for two McKinleyville teams this year, including earning all-league honors in football where he was one of the best linemen in the Little 4.
He followed that with a huge season in track and field, winning the NCS Meet of Champions in the latter before placing eighth at state, which was the best performance by any H-DNL athlete this spring.
Del Norte, Senior
He was an all-league selection in both football and basketball, and was his team’s best player in the latter.
He also received an honorable mention in baseball, although in fairness he probably deserved first-team honors in that as well.