COVID protocols couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm at this past weekend’s North Coast Classic wrestling tournament at Eureka High.
Only 14 of the scheduled 25 teams were able to make the trip and the tournament was held without fans, but despite all of that it was still a big success in many ways.
“I think the biggest takeaway from the tournament is that everybody was just grateful to be there,” eureka head coach Clint Hunter said.
The Del Norte Warriors beat out Windsor for first place in the boys tournament, with Ukiah, Corning and Fortuna rounding out the top five teams.
There were also a limited number of girls competing but no team tournament championship was awarded.
The Warriors took home five individual championships, including Alexander Osbourne (106 pounds), Andre Aflegue (113) and Brandon Jones (195) for the boys, and Savannah Williams (131) and Adenne Schaad (150) for the girls.
“I thought we wrestled really well,” Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad said. “There’s always matches you want back. It’s almost impossible to wrestle the perfect tournament, but overall we wrestled good enough to win the tournament.”
It was another strong showing for the Warriors, who have been the most impressive team in the H-DNL this season and appear to be the team to beat ahead of this year’s league championships, which will be held at Del Norte on Feb. 12.
Right now, COVID is playing havoc with all the teams in the league, but the coaches are hoping to have their full rosters available again as they head toward the business end of the season.
“Hopefully we’ll get everybody back on the team for league and sections and stuff,” Clinton Schaad said. “This is where we’re at right now, and we’re working through it.”
In addition to their five individual champions, the Warriors also had four wrestlers place second, including Eric Stansbury (123), Curtis Bartley (135) and RJ Loftin (173) for the boys, and Channey Schaad (111) for the girls.
The H-DNL dual meet season concludes next week, with the North Coast Section dual meet tournament scheduled for Feb. 5, one week before the H-DNL championships.
On Wednesday night, the Warriors remained hot and defeated McKinleyville 78-6 in a dual meet.
“I feel like the year is flying by,” Clinton Schaad said. “I think everything we’re dealing with and COVID is keeping us busy. We’ve just got to keep moving forward.”
The Loggers have been hit hard by COVID protocols in recent weeks, but Hunter is also hoping to have a full roster back for the upcoming league championships.
“It’s hard to get too wrapped up in wins and losses when you have six guys out and the other team has seven guys out,” he said. “I think that week to week it’s not representative of what the teams look like.
“As much as we can, we’re doing our best.”
Hunter is hoping his team can compete for some individual titles when they’re healthy, but believes Del Norte is the team to beat in league this year.
“We’ve got a lot of pretty good kids, from top to bottom,” he said. “But right now Del Norte has a really god team and I think realistically everybody’s behind them.”
The Loggers should continue to improve as they get more and more wrestlers back at practice.
“Our focus is on getting better and having fun,” the head coach said. “And week to week whatever challenges we face to go after it and do the best we can.”