Heart in Sole Santa Rosa, CA
adidas/Heart and Sole Redwood Empire Athletes of the Week!




In an effort to recognize the hard work and achievements of many Track Athletes throughout the Redwood Empire, we have joined with adidas to launch our Redwood Empire Athlete of the Week award! Each week, one boy and one girl will be awarded a custom silkscreened tech shirt in recognition of that week's accomplishments. So, without further ado, our 2013 adidas/Heart & Sole Redwood Empire Athletes of the Week!


Athletes of the Year

Herbie Polk, Maria Carrillo, senior

Herbie Polk - photo credit Michael Lucid

Typically, a senior sprinter entering the season with a 51-and-change 400m PR doesn't exactly turn a lot of heads. But Polk had anything but a typical season. While he started the season with a 51.20 best, which placed him 4th in the NBL Champs, he ended up as the 2nd fastest 400m runner in Empire History, and ran legs on record-setting relays. But first, he had to break 50 seconds, which he did for the first time decently late into the season, at Woody Wilson, hitting 49.11, taking second (as he did in the 200m as well). From there, he just took off, dominating the NBL Finals in 48.34, then winning the NCS Redwood Empire in 47.79, and placing second at the NCS Meet of Champions in 47.21, the second fastest time ever run by a Redwood Empire Athlete. And while he didn't set yet another PR, he still managed a 10th place finish at the California State Championships in 48.19. Oh, and he also had a great season at 200m, winning the North Bay League title and Viking Invite, and running the 5th fastest all-condition time ever in 21.73. And then finally, the relays. While it's hard to know exactly how much credit to give to each athlete, there's no doubt that Polk played a key role on both Pumas' relays. In the short relay, they placed 4th at NCS MOC in 42.41 to break a 46 year old Empire Record, and have a total of 6 of the 13 sub-43's ever run in Empire History. In the long relay, they ran the second (3:17.59) and third (3:17.68) fastest times ever, and have 3 of the 7 sub-3:20 marks in Empire History. Add in team titles from the North Bay League, NCS Redwood Empire, and 3rd-place at NCS MOC, and you have one amazing season.

Kathleen Durand, Maria Carrillo, senior

Kathleen Durand - photo credit Press Democrat

Coming into the season, Durand was one of just 5 girls to throw the discus over 130', having gone both 130'2" and 130'4" as a junior. Those were the 14th and 15th best marks ever. Now, she owns the best ever discus throw in Empire History. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. In fact, Durand has 6 of the top 10 throws ever by an Empire Athlete, and 25 of the top 50. That's right, of the 50 best throws EVER, Durand has half. At the NCS Redwood Empire, she became the first Empire Athlete to break 140', hitting 140'10" and winning by over 10 feet. One week later, she yet again broke 140', this time to win the NCS Meet of Champions, again by over 10 feet. However, at the State Prelims she had a bit of a down day, "only" throwing 134'10", a mark that at the time was only the 8th best throw ever in the area. But, she turned it around in the finals, destroying her own Empire Record with a 144'3" toss to take 4th at the California State Championships. Besides just throwing far, she got tons of big wins, taking NCS MOC, NCS Redwood Empire, NBL Champs, as well as the SR Twilight and Dan Gabor Invites. At the SR Twilight, she even threw a meet record! And while the discus is obviously her main event, she had some solid success in the shot put as well. She made it all the way to the NCS MOC, while en route placing 2nd at the NCS Redwood Empire. There she threw 38'4", the second best of the year, 2nd best ever in Maria Carrillo History, and 18th best ever from the Redwood Empire. Not too bad for an off event!

NCS Meet of Champions

Sadia Ibrahim, Santa Rosa, senior

Sadia Ibrahim - photo credit Michael Lucid

Just like her male counterpart in Dante Hay, Ibrahim has been the class of the Empire 800m scene all year. And, like Hay, we just assumed she had already won while making our pics, so this is a very belated honor of Ibrahim, as she should have earned this long ago. All that being said, she still certainly had one ridiculously good weekend of competition at the NCS Meet of Champions at UC Berkeley. Competing in a middle-distance race is incredibly tough there, as she had to run back-to-back days, going hard enough to qualify for the finals, but saving enough in the tank to qualify from the finals to State. And she did just that. In the prelims, she cruised to a 2:16.74 to earn the Q for Saturday's final. While 4+ seconds slower than her season's best, of course, that mark would have made her 13th best ever in the Empire and 2nd fastest of the year, showing just how dominant she is. But, of course, the fast time came on Saturday's finals, where she clocked 2:13.39. Again, another top time that would put her high on the all-time Empire list, if she hadn't already run 2:12.48. But, of course, the important aspect of that race was her third place finish, qualifying her for the California State T&F Championships for the third straight year.

Justin Zinnerman, Rancho Cotate, sophomore

Justin Zinnerman - photo credit Michael Lucid

In 2012, Zinnerman was already mixing it up with the big boys in NCS high jumping, a very rare feet for a freshman. In fact, he was the only freshman to make the NCS MOC, where he cleared 6'2", just missing a trip to State by count-back. Well he certainly didn't have to worry about early misses this time, as he soared to 6'6" at the NCS Meet of Champions, placing third and earning his trip to State. He was the only sophomore to do so. He even had room to spare, as he surpassed the very high state auto-qualifier mark of 6'5". This performance ties his personal best, set exactly one month prior, which certainly put him on everyone's radar. Thanks to that 6'6" clearance, he's now in a tie for 23rd highest jumper ever in the Empire, and tied for second in the sophomore ranks. And if he can improve just 1 more inch, he'll be in the running for a State Medal, a feat no male Empire high jumper has done since 1996, and, as far as we can tell, no Rancho Cotate male has ever achieved.

North Coast Section Qualifying

Alex Netherda, Maria Carrillo, sophomore

Alex Netherda - photo credit Michael Lucid

After an amazing 2012 season that saw him go 40.77 to win the North Bay League 300mh crown as a freshman, the Empire has been waiting for that first sub40 clocking. Well, Netherda absolutely smashed that barrier at the NCS Redwood Empire Meet, stopping the clock at 39.60. That mark easily cements him as tops in the Empire this year, as well as moving him all the way up to 16th on the all-time Empire List. This should set him up quite well for the NCS MOC state-qualifying meet next week at UC Berkeley. While the only freshman in the hurdles last year, he was way over his head in 20th, but if he can pull out another sub-40 there should be no problem making finals. And, of course, fighting for a berth to the State Meet.

Sheena Blackwell, Piner, sophomore

Sheena Blackwell - photo credit Michael Lucid

One week after capturing both hurdles at the SCL Championships, Blackwell showed that she's a force to be reckoned with on the much bigger NCS stage as well, specifically in the long hurdles. In the NCS Redwood Area Meet she stormed to a 45.78 clocking, good for second and advancement to the NCS MOC state-qualifier. That time smashed her previous best, moving her even more clearly on top of the yearly Empire list. She's now nearly two seconds faster than any other Empire athletes for 2013. But the mark is much more than just a yearly footnote; Blackwell is now sitting second on the all-time sophomore list for the event as well as tied for 9th all-time in the Empire, period. In addition to her main race, she also advanced in the short hurdles, clocking 16.40 for 4th.

Coastal Mountain Conference Championships

Austin Orr, Sonoma Academy, senior

Austin Orr - photo credit Michael Lucid

Orr was a three-event winner at the Coastal Mountain Conference Championships, capturing the 800m, 1,600m, and 3,200m. As one of the top 800m runners in the Empire this year - he sits 2nd on the yearly list - it's no surprise he won. What's impressive is his nearly 10-second win in 1:58.87, making him the top-seed for the NCS Class A Championship. Beforehand, he was the run-away winner in the 1,600m, clocking 4:37.90 to second place's 4:45. And to cap it all off, he won the 3,200m by over 10 seconds. Orr is the 4th-fastest 800m runner ever from the small-schools, and 38th overall from the Empire. Overall, he scored 30 points towards Sonoma Academy's 77.5 total, placing them second.

Marina Spadarotto, St. Helena, senior

Marina Spadarotto - photo credit Michael Lucid

Spadarotto was a double individual winner at the Coastal Mountain Conference Championships, in addition to running legs on both of St. Helena's championships relays. The first of her individual wins came in the 400m, where she became one of just five Empire Athletes to break 60 seconds for 2013. Her time of 59.89 put her over a half-second in-front of the runner-up, and makes her the top-seed for the upcoming NCS Class A Championship, where the top-3 qualify for the NCS Meet of Champions at Berkeley. She was similarly dominant in the 200m, being the only athlete of the meet to break 27 seconds, crossing in 26.95. Adding to her individual crowns, she did relay duty on the 4x100m relay which absolutely crushed the competition, hitting 51.59, more than 2 full seconds ahead of 2nd place. And to end the meet, she helped the long relay squad to a 4:22.56 win. Both of those relays rank St. Helena 6th on the yearly Empire list, far and away the best from the small-schools.

Sonoma County League Championships

Bianca Nicastro, Healdsburg, junior

Bianca Nicastro - photo credit Michael Lucid

Nicastro was an absolute work-horse for Healdsburg at the Sonoma County League Championships, scoring in four events to help Healdsburg earn their first league title since 1981. Her individual highlight was undoubtedly the 400m, where she stormed away from the defending champion to win by nearly 1.5 seconds. Her time of 58.75 makes her just the 5th girl of the year to break 60, puts her third on the yearly list, and 29th All-Time in the Empire. It should be noted that she also broke 60 (59.74) in the prelims. Near the end of the meet, she was a close second to teammate Barragan in the 200m, clocking 26.86, just as she did in the prelims, keeping her among the top-10 of the year. But her success wasn't just on the track, as she scored points in both the high jump and pole vault. In the vault, she cleared 9'6, good to move into a tie for 27th all-time, and 2nd to teammate Haun. In the high jump, she had to settle to merely tie for 2nd, clearing 4'6", which was a bit off her personal best clearance of 5'2". All told, she scored 33 points towards Healdsburg's 158 point total to defeat Petaluma for the Greyhounds first team title since well before any of these athletes have been alive. 

Jaime Silva, Piner, senior

Jaime Silva - photo credit Michael Lucid

Silva has had many podium-finishes in league championships over the years, but never earned that individual crown until this year's Sonoma County League Championships. He had both a bronze and silver from NBL 3,200m's, a silver each from the NBL and SCL XC, but this year won the gold in the SCL 3,200m. That 3,200m came in a duel with reigning SCL XC, 800m, and 1,600m champion Douglas, who defeated Silva at their earlier tri-meet. But when the title was on the line, Silva crossed over 5 seconds ahead of Douglas, 9:41.49 to 9:48.16. And while not his best time for the season (which is 9:33.90, the 2nd fastest on the yearly list), it's faster than anyone else in the SCL has run this year. He did, however, earn a personal best in the 1,600m, solidifying his place as #3 on the yearly list. There he was 2nd to Douglas in 4:23.23.

North Bay League Championships

Dante Hay, Maria Carrillo, junior

Dante Hay - photo credit Michael Lucid

Hay has had one of those seasons where he could have earned AotW honors most any week. It's been so good, in fact, that we've passed over him several times, just assuming he's already won. So here's a long-delayed award for the middle-distance runner from Carrillo. And that being said, he certainly earned it this week! Hay has been the name in Empire 800m running, ever since setting the Freshman Class Record two years back. It's was almost a given that he dominated his specialty at the NBL Championships, cruising to a 4+ second win. Considering he has a 1:55.02 best - the 16th fastest in Empire History - it was his 400m which was almost more surprising and impressive. There, he ran a 49.92 to take second behind one of the best long sprinters ever from the Empire in teammate Herbie Polk. His sub-50 clocking now makes him the 29th fastest 400m runner in the Empire as well. To end the night, Hay teamed with Polk and two others to win the long relay, capping off a run-away team victory for the Pumas, 144 to second place's 73.

Juliana Mendez, Windsor, senior

Juliana Mendez - photo credit Michael Lucid

With all the talk of the younger milers this year, it was the veteran Mendez who took arguably the marque event in the NBL: the 1,600m. Unlike many distance stars who began their careers as amazing freshmen, Mendez has been steadily improving year after year. And it all came together this year, as she handily defeated the much-talked-about trio of underclassman to capture the North Bay League 1,600m title in 5:11.88. That mark will make her the 42nd fastest 1,600m runner in Empire History, and number two ever from Windsor. Not surprisingly, it also bumps her up to the top on the yearly list. If that's not enough, she doubled back to place a solid 3rd in the 800m, hitting a PR of 2:23.35. That mark moves her to No.4 on the yearly list in her 2nd event.

Week Ten

Devyn Ruiz, Healdsburg, senior

Devyn Ruiz - photo credit Press Democrat

In their final regular-season SCL meet, Ruiz captured 4 events to lead Healdsburg to the win and a 6-0 record entering the Championships meet. While a solid multi-eventer last year (SCL Champ in the long jump, while also scoring in the 100m and triple-jump), she's reached a whole new level this year, hitting top-marks in those three events plus the short hurdles. On Wednesday, those marks were 13.5h (100m), 16.6h (100m hurdles), 16'8" (LJ), and 34'5" (TJ). Most noticeable was that huge triple-jump, which made her the 50th best triple-jumper in Empire History, as well as the yearly SCL leader. While those other three marks weren't personal bests, she's currently sitting first in the Empire in the Long Jump as well (17'6.5"), tied for first in the 100m dash for all conditions, and 5th for the short hurdles. So the big questions are: what events will she race into the post-season, and how far will she go?

Teddy Scranton, Petaluma, senior

Teddy Scranton - photo credit PressDemocrat

It must have been a tough week at the Scranton house, with sister Alison winning Athlete of the Week awards before big brother Teddy. But he certainly earned his own this week, with one awesome triple at Petaluma's final SCL league-meet of the season. Primarily known as a thrower (he's the reigning SCL Champion in the discus, and was second in the shot), Scranton easily captured both the shot put (45'2") and discus (149'10"). While neither were personal bests, both would easily put him on the yearly Empire Lists if he weren't already higher. Currently, he sits #2 in the Empire in the discus and #4 in the shot put, while both are easily #1's in the SCL. But not only is he a consistently top thrower, but he has got some speed as well. He was the outright winner in the 200m dash on Wednesday, clocking 23.3h to win by nearly a full second. And if all that weren't enough, he managed a 4th-place finish in the 100m in 12.2h. Not bad for a thrower!

Week Nine

Brycen Poarch, Casa Grande, senior

Brycen Poarch - photo credit Press Democrat

Poarch is another of those reigning league champions who will not be able to defend his title due to the new realignment. But the 2012 Sonoma County League champ at both the LJ and TJ certainly has a good chance to add "North Bay League Champion" to his resume. First off, on his Wednesday NBL meet versus Cardinal Newman, Poarch had no trouble winning both horizontal jumps. He had a comfortable win in the triple at 41'7", but the big one was when he blasted out a 22'3" long jump, the only 20+ footer of the day. No other Empire Athlete has gone over 22 feet this year. O, and for good measure he won the high jump at an even 6 feet. Then he headed to the Viking Invite, where he was unquestionably the top Empire jumper of the day. He was the outright winner in the triple jump at 43'6.5", and, while not his best (it's 45'8" from 2012), it makes him just the second 43+footer forthe Redwood Empire this year. The only triple jumper ahead of him, Maria Carrillo's Dantae Garcia, was one spot behind Poarch in the long jump, where he went 22'3.5 for 2nd (tops from the Empire). That is the longest jump in the Empire this year.

Alison Scranton, Petaluma, sophomore

Alison Scranton - photo credit Michael Lucid

While talk in the throwing circle all year has been on Kathleen Durand of Maria Carrillo, Scranton - who's just a sophomore - took the big win in the discus at the Viking Invite this weekend. While in some events it's common for underclassmen to make an impact right away, that is incredibly rare with the girls. However, Scranton showed she was a force from the get-go, taking 2nd in both the shot put and discus at least year's SCL Champs, and coming just 3.5" shy of making state in the shot at the NCS MOC. At Viking, it was the discus where she absolutely excelled, throwing 127'6" to beat Duran by just over a foot. That toss puts her 7th on the all-time discus list, and behind only Durand on the all-time sophomore list. Additionally, she placed 3rd in the shot, putting it out 36'9". While not her season best, even that would move her to the top-30 all-time if it were. (She's currently 16th at 38'9".)

Week Eight

Tori Mollard, Montgomery, sophomore

Tori Mollard - photo credit Michael Lucid

Mollard did triple-duty in her Wednesday league meet to help the Vikings beat Ukiah and Newman. First off, she dominated her main event, the 100m hurdles, clocking 16.88 to win by nearly 3/4th of a second. She came back to score some solid points in 300m hurdles (51.21), taking second. Her time in the short hurdles tied her best from one week before, putting her 3rd on the yearly list. She backed that up with a FAT wind-legal performance of 16.98 at the Woody Wilson Classic that weekend, which moves her to number 24 on the all-time wind-legal list.

Zuhuri Manley, Clear Lake, senior

Zuhuri Manley - photo credit Jim Crowhurst

The reigning Coastal Mountain Conference Champion in the long jump is again head and shoulders above everyone else in the CMC this year. Actually, he's tops in the Empire thanks to his huge jump at the Woody Wilson Classic. There he leapt to an Empire-Leading 21'11". Even more impressive, it was completely unassisted by the wind (0.0mps), so ranks him 7th on the all-time wind-legal list. If he continues to jump like that he should have a very good chance to make his mark far into the post-season this year.

Week Seven

Connor Celeri, Piner, junior

Connor Celeri - photo credit Press Democrat

High-hurdlers in the North Bay League must be happy with this new league alignment, as reigning champ Celeri will now have to dominate SCL instead. At the Chip Castleberry Invite, Celeri flew to a 15.43 clocking, the same time he hit in winning his league title last year. That was over a half-second faster than the runner-up, who is now the NBL leader. But his day wasn't over just yet, as he also cleared 6'2" in the high jump for 2nd (and a tie for 1st in the SCL), and took home third in the 100m 11.64 for good measure. He did a quite similar triple at his Wednesday league meet versus Petaluma and Sonoma. He captured the 110mH easily (15.4h to 17.5h), won the high jump at 5'8", and took home a solid 3rd in the 100m at 11.1h. While all marks are good, expect big things in the short hurdles this post season. He already has big-time experience, making the finals at the NCS MOC last year, and will likely be in the hunt for one of those 3 berths to the California State Meet there.

Amanda Morton Windsor, senior

Amanda Morton - photo credit Michael Lucid

After missing out on making the NCS MOC by the narrowest of margins (3 one-hundreths of a second) last year, Morton is well on her way to making her senior season a big one. On her Wednesday meet versus Montgomery and Casa Grande, she ran an Empire-Leading 16.3h in the 100m hurdles, which is converted to 16.54+. That's nearly half-a-second faster than her seasonal best for 2012, and close to a second faster than this time last year. She then followed that up with a solid 51.2h in the 300m hurdles. But all that wasn't enough, as she ran faster in both races just a few days later at the Chip Castleberry Invite. She again won the 110m hurdles, but this time in a 16.50, putting her into a tie for 29th on the all-time Empire FAT list. And then, in the longer hurdles, she broke 50 for the first time, clocking 49.85 for second.

Week Six

Kiana Herald, Sonoma Academy, senior

Kiana Herold - photo credit Press Democrat

While slightly overshadowed by SRHS's Bertsch, Kiana Herald is reaching some incredible heights herself in the high jump. At the first ever Santa Rosa Twilight Invitational, Herald soared to a new meet record of 5'3" to win by nearly half a foot. That mark not only cements her as the No.2 jumper of the year, but also moves her into a tie for 25th on the All-Time Empire List. In addition to her jumping, Herald also won the day section of the 300m hurdles, clocking 50.27, to move to 7th on the yearly list.

Andy Kotval Windsor, senior

Andy Kotval - photo credit Michael Lucid

The two-time defending Sonoma County League Champion will not be able to defend his title this year, but only because Windsor has now moved to the (arguably more competitive) North Bay League. And he's easily the favorite to take that title, too. At the 1st Annual Santa Rosa Twilight Invitational, Kotval soared to 14'0" Meet Record, winning the event by two-and-a-half feet. Not only is that the highest Empire height of the year by a full foot-and-a-half, but also catapults him to a tie for 20th on the All-Time Empire List. Quite notably, only two athletes, twins Matt and Mike Tillinghast, have jumped higher in the last ten years.

Week Five

Herbie Polk, Maria Carrillo, junior

Herbie Polk - photo credit MCHS T&F

Competing at the prestigious Stanford Invitational, Polk blasted an Empire-Leading 50.11 in the 400m dash. That time won his heat by over half a second, and shattered his old best by .73. Still just a junior, Polk is now the 39th fastest 400m runner in Empire History, and second on the Maria Carrillo all-time board, behind only current University of Colorado runner Tyler Baker. Besides for just his individual race, he also did relay duty for the DMR on day one, as well as the 4x100m and 4x400m on day two. In the DMR, the Pumas ran 10:33.98 - with Polk splitting low 50-point good for 11th all-time in the Empire. The 4x400m went 3:24.28, good for 26th on the all-time list, while the 4x100m clocked 43.61, the 29th fastest ever in the Empire and a new MCHS record.

Jackie Chalmers Montgomery, senior

Jackie Chalmers - photo credit Michael Lucid

Chalmers has been moving up in the 400m ranks well these last few years, from 3rd in league as a sophomore, to 2nd in league as a junior, to... well we'll see if the pattern holds next month. She's clearly well on her way to some more post-season success, as evidenced by her 58.42 at the Stanford Invite this weekend. That would be good enough to put her at 16th on the all-time Empire List, except for the fact that she's already #11 in virtue of her 58.26 from last year. And this year, she's already gone 58.27 as well, the fastest of the year for the Empire. The sub-58 club only has seven members, so perhaps this year Chalmers will make it eight.

Week Four

Maria Barragan, Healdsburg, senior

Maria Barragan

While she's best known as an 800m specialist (she did, after all, place 16th at the California State Championships last year), Barragan earns AotW honors this week due to her success in the long sprints. She was a triple-winner at Healdsburg's tri-meet on Friday, taking first in the 200m, 400m, and 800m (okay that snuck in there, too!), and also anchored their winning sprint medley relay. First up was the 400m, where her time of 60.68 is 2nd fastest for the year thus far, and leads the SCL by over a full second. She had an easy win in her specialty, taking first by over 5 seconds, before having a tiny bit of down time before the 200m. There she obliterated the field (winning by over a second) as she clocked 26.89 (with the maximum allowable wind of +2.0mps). Not only does that also put her 2nd on the yearly list for the 200m, but it jumps her all the way into a tie for 26th fastest ever from the Redwood Empire. Perhaps all of this speed will help her move from a top-20 finish at State to making the finals this year.

Morgan Kinunen Sonoma Academy, senior

Morgan Kinunen - photo credit Michael Lucid

Kinunen has been leading the Empire in the 110m hurdles since the very first meet of the season, and this week was no different. First off, at his Wednesday CMC meet, Kinunen clocked a 15.9h (or 16.14+), winning by half a second. While not quite his season's best of 15.98 FAT, this would still easily lead the Empire for 2013 if it were. On Friday against Healdsburg and Cardinal Newman, he again won the short hurdles, this time by over a second-and-a-half, 16.20 to 17.74. That was before attempting the long hurdles, where he narrowly edged out Newman runner (the same one who was second in the short hurdles) for the win, 47.49 to 47.76.

Week Three

Ryan Douglas, Petaluma, senior

Ryan Douglas - photo credit Eli Rosen-Duran

Out of 334 1,600m runners, running in 18 heats at the Dublin Distance Festival, Douglas was far and away the best of the day. He clocked 4:24.71, with second place nearly 3 seconds behind. Douglas's time is far and away the fastest in the Empire this year, and over 10 seconds ahead of anyone else in the SCL. He'll certainly be setting his sights beyond the SCL meet, where he's already the reigning champion, and towards trying to qualify for the State Meet. Last year he was 7th at the Meet of Champions, with the top 3 advancing to State.

Helen AnnHaun Healdsburg, senior

Helen-Ann Haun - photo credit Michael Lucid

While overshadowed by some bigger names the last few years, Haun made a big leap this weekend towards becoming one of the all-time great Empire Vaulters. Competing at the Bob Frick Invite, she soared to a career best 10'6", winning the competition by a full 2 feet. That mark is easily the highest in the Empire this year, by a full foot, and puts Haun into a tie for the 10th highest vaulter in Empire History. She's now in a position to finally win that SCL title, after finishing 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd the last three years.

Week Two

Kathleen Durand, Maria Carrillo, senior

Kathleen Durand - photo credit Michael Lucid

As has been the case since 2010, Durand is looking to be far and away the best female thrower in the North Bay League. Already with 5 NBL titles (discus '10-'12, shot put '11-'12), she should certainly grab two more this May, and will likely be looking for much more. She's starting her 2013 campaign in fine style, as she captured both throws at the Dan Gabor Invite this weekend, with marks of 36'6" (shot put) and 129'3" (discus). That shot put mark moves her into a tie for 32nd on the All-Time Empire List. But that pales in comparison to her discus, where she absolutely shattered the old meet record of 116'1" from last year, a mark held by none other than Kathleen Durand herself. And while it wasn't her PR, if it were it would make her the 7th best discus thrower in Empire History. (She's currently 4th with a 133'1" from last year.) So don't be shocked to see the Empire Record of 136'4" fall this year.

Nolan Nagle, Cardinal Newman, senior

Nolan Nagle - photo credit Jim Crowhurst

Nagle looks well on his way to moving from being a solid Empire thrower in 2012 to becoming an all-time great in 2013. He already has bettered his 2012 marks a couple of times, with the biggest throws coming at this weekend's Windsor Relays. Without any real competition, (he won both throws by over 10 feet) he threw his way onto the All-Time list in the discus, and nearly did the same in the shot. His disc mark of 157' is just one foot off of the top-50 ever from the Empire, and over 10 feet further than anyone else in the Empire has thrown this year. The shot put mark of 54'7.5", however, moves him to 18th best ever in the history of the Redwood Empire, an event in which only one other top-20 mark is from the last 15 years. That mark is also leading the North Coast Section thus far this year, and his shot put is sitting in 2nd.

Week One

Andrew Kozel, Healdsburg, senior

Andrew Kozel - photo credit Jim Crowhurst

Last year's SCL Champion at 400m put himself in prime position to not only defend his title this year, but add a 200m crown as well. While he hadn't run a great 200m since his sophomore year, Kozel opened up big at Big Cat with a wind-legal 22.86. If he weren't already on the all-time list from his '11 mark, this would have made him the 12th fastest wind-legal 200m runner in Empire History. However, he was second in the race to a runner from Sacred Heart. However, he still took home a win earlier in the day, with a 50.63 400m, which was nearly 1.5 seconds ahead of the runner-up. While he has run faster last year, it was only in the last post-season races of the season. So don't be shocked to see a bunch of 49s in the near future.

Morgan Bertsch, Santa Rosa, junior

Morgan Bertsch - photo credit Jim Crowhurst

Bertsch didn't just win the high jump in her season debut at Big Cat, but absolutely obliterated her personal best, putting her in a great position to make a run for a State Meet medal this year. Her PR at the end of last year, 5'5" at the State Meet, was good enough for 6th. But her 5'7" at Big Cat would have been good enough for 3rd. And the year is just getting started; looks like she's currently 2nd in the State of California for 2013. Plus, that mark ties her for 2nd All-Time in Empire history.

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Athletes of the Week are picked solely by the Heart and Sole Staff, but we greatly value input from local COACHES. If any coach from the Empire has an athlete they wish to nominate, please contact us.