By Ray Hamill — The second local prep wrestling tournament of the season will be held Saturday at McKinleyville High, as the North Coast grapplers begin to gradually build momentum through the month of December.
The 35th annual Panthers’ tournament will feature all the local schools as well as seven out-of-area teams.
“It should be a pretty good little tournament for this level of wrestling,” long-time McKinleyville head coach Virgil Moorehead said.
In Moorehead’s own words, December is about “getting your feet wet” when it comes to wrestling, and that’s exactly what he’s looking for from his wrestlers.
The Panthers feature a squad of 20, including five girls, the most Moorehead has ever had on his team.
The Arcata Tigers also will feature five girls on their wrestling team this season.
“It’s kind of growing,” Moorehead said of the local high school girls contingent.
Among them is Mack senior Audriana Beattie, who recently signed a letter of intent to wrestle next year at York College in Nebraska, an NAIA Division-II program.
And, according to her coach, Beattie is a smart wrestler.
“She just knows a lot about wrestling,” he said.
Another McKinleyville senior, Lydia Kenyon, is also expected to have a big season.
On the Panthers boys’ team, Michael Nelson and Skylar Hicks are expected to lead the way this winter.
Many of the league’s top wrestlers are still playing football as Eureka and Fortuna continue their playoff runs, and with Del Norte just finishing up last weekend.
Saturday’s tournament gets under way at 9:30 a.m.