By Ray Hamill — After months of uncertainty, high school wrestling returned to the North Coast this week, with seven schools competing.
The schedule will last just three weeks, with a series of dual meets for the first two weeks, followed by a league semifinal meet next weekend, and closing out with the league championships on Saturday June 12 at McKinleyville High.
And while it’s an unusual season in many respects, the coaches and wrestlers are just glad to be back competing.
“We just want to make sure the kids have fun and let them get as many matches as possible in a short space of time,” Eureka boys head coach Clint Hunter said.
Unlike traditional seasons, there’s no traveling for tournaments this year, and the season will be a quick one.
“For some of the freshmen this is their first experience of wrestling,” Hunter added with a chuckle. “And we’re competing outside on the tennis courts and it’s almost summer time. It’s a completely different experience.”
The Loggers feature a young team this year with just four seniors on a roster of 28, but many of them have been staying in shape during the long shutdown in preparation for their return to action.
“They’re very happy to be back,” Hunter said. “We’ve been doing two or three days a week of strength and conditioning since mid summer last year, but we were not able to get out and wrestle.
“The kids have built a really tight camaraderie. It seems like the older kids on our team are just good character examples and the younger kids are falling in line.”
No one has set a better example for the younger wrestlers than senior Nolan Jacobus, who recently won the Logger ESPY for Best Male Breakthrough Athlete.
“He’s been just great for us the last two years,” Hunter said of Jacobus, who will join the US Marine Corps after graduation. “He’s just a hard worker and does so much stuff.
“It seems like his motivation is primarily to motivate other wrestlers on the team.”
Hunter also expects big things out of junior Shyloh Nicholson, who is one of the favorites this season in the heavyweight division.
At 134 pounds, senior Anthony Giovanni also is expected to do well.
“The kids are having fun and it’s a real tight-knit bunch,” the coach said.
Eureka is competing this year along with Fortuna, Del Norte, Arcata, McKinleyville, Hoopa and St. Bernard’s.
The Loggers had dual meets this past week against Arcata and McKinleyville and will compete against Fortuna on Tuesday, against Del Norte on Wednesday and against both Hoopa and St. Bernard’s on Thursday.
The league coaches will meet for a seedings meeting on Friday to decide on the top four wrestlers in each weight class.