By Ray Hamill — Arguably this was the closest of all of our high school awards categories this year, with little to separate the top three contenders.
But when you’re one of the top football players in the H-DNL and then set a standard in track and field that could last for a generation, you edge out the best of the rest.
And that makes Eureka senior Jamin Guilbert our 2023 Humboldt Sports Big 5 Boys Athlete of the Year.
Guilbert enjoyed a year for the ages.
After an all-league selection on the football field as the best lineman on a disappointing Loggers team, he followed that with an impressive winter on the basketball courts.
But he saved the best for last with a sensational spring in track and field, one that ultimately separated him from the rest of our long list of talented finalists for the award.
Guilbert won league titles in both the shot put and discus, incredibly outdistancing the rest of the field by almost 41 feet in the latter.
He would go on to win the discus at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions and place in the top 10 in the event at the prestigious CIF state championships.
“We couldn’t be more proud of him for his hard work and dedication to the sport,” Eureka head coach Scott Pesch said of Guilbert after his record-setting exploits. “In just two years, Jamin’s persistence has made him one of the top throwing high school athletes in the state.”
All in all, it was a very impressive year for the outstanding senior and one that sets a standard that may not be topped for some time.
Rogan Bode, Eureka
Derek Ray, McKinleyville
When you place in the top eight in state in your chosen sport you get serious consideration for Big 5 Athlete of the Year, especially when it’s not the only sport you excel at.
Derek Ray did exactly that, going further than any other H-DNL athlete in track and field this spring while competing in the shot put, an event he won at the NCS Meet of Champions on his way to the state championships.
Ray was also an inspirational leader on a McKinleyville football team that ended a championship drought that had lasted 32 years and he earned all-league honors in the process.
Bode, meanwhile, also had an outstanding senior year competing for the Loggers in both football and baseball and he was arguably his team’s best player in both sports.
He was also named first-team all-league in both sports and he followed in his older brother Hayden’s footsteps by winning the prestigious Jay Willard Award as the Loggers senior athlete of the year.
Like Guilbert and Ray, Bode left his mark on Big 5 sports and closed out his high school career with a very impressive senior year.