By Ray Hamill — The youth movement is alive and well in H-DNL wrestling.
Now it’s just about getting these young guns some valuable mat time.
The local high school season officially kicked off last week with the Battle at the Border tournament in Crescent City, and the nine H-DNL boys teams will all be back in action this Saturday at the McKinleyville tournament.
And according to Mack head coach Virgil Moorehead, there was plenty to feel excited about after the opening weekend, which was the first real high school tournament in the area in almost two years.
“It was good to have it back,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young wrestlers (in the H-DNL). We’ve got a few quality kids in league, but for the most part they’re very young squads.”
The Panthers have seven freshmen on their roster, along with some sophomores, including standout Jayce Thompson, who won the 145-pound title at Del Norte.
And like with the rest of the H-DNL, these young wresters are really only experiencing the sport at the high school level for the first time after a very brief season last year.
And for all of them, these early-season tourneys are largely about getting back in the groove.
“We just want to gain some more experience and get the feel of what it’s like to compete in high school wrestling,” Moorehead said. “And get them back in the routine.”
This season also sees the return of teams at Ferndale and South Fork, giving the H-DL nine boys teams, which should make for a more competitive league.
And Moorehead expects the Hoopa Warriors to be in the mix at several weight classes.
“They’ve got some kids that have wrestled (at the youth level),” Moorehead said of the Warriors. “So they’ve got some kids, and they’re pretty good. And that’s exciting for their community.”
Saturday’s tournament begins at 9 a.m., with the semifinals expected to start around 1:30 p.m. and the finals around 4:30 p.m.