By Ray Hamill — The seedings have been set for this weekend’s North Coast Section boys and girls wrestling championships, with multiple local grapplers expected to compete for a section title.
The boys tournament will be held at James Logan High School in Union City, while the girls will compete at Albany High School, with the action getting started on Friday and running through Saturday.
“I think overall our league is really climbing up and getting better,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad, who has been coaching for 20 years. “All of the teams are getting better, and we’re young. Almost all of our (league) champions and guys who were a close second are coming back, so that’s pretty exciting.”
That includes Arcata junior Josh Hannan, who was crowned league champion at 126 pounds this past weekend and is the No. 1 seed in his bracket for the prestigious section tournament, which is more competitive than many state tournaments around the country.
Hannan is 28-3 on the season.
Hoopa’s Gerard Marshall is also a top seed in his bracket (285) and expected to compete for a championship, as are four other H-DNL grapplers seeded in the top four in their respective brackets.
Just two spots behind Marshall at 285, Eureka’s Shyloh Nicholson is seeded No. 3 and we could see a rematch of last weekend’s league championship in the NCS final on Saturday.
Marshall won that matchup with a 5-2 decision.
Two other H-DNL champs — Fortuna’s Weylan Mcknight (182) and Del Norte’s Eric Stansbury (113) — are seeded No. 3 and well positioned to compete for a title or to qualify for the state tournament.
Likewise with Fortuna’s Mason Evanow (113), who pushed Stansbury all the way at the league championships and is seeded just one spot behind him at No. 4.
And they’re not the only seeded wrestlers from the H-DNL.
Del Norte’s Curtis Bartley (No. 6 at 132), Alex Osbourne (No. 7 at 106) and Andre “Bobby” Aflague (No. 7 at 120) are also highly ranked, as are Fortuna’s Asa Mckenzie (No. 6 at 145), St. Bernard’s Jack Kramer (No. 8 at 152), Hoopa’s Kaewett Nelson (No. 8 at 160) and Del Norte’s Colton Schaad (No. 9 at 152).
Several local girls are also expected to wrestle well into Saturday and possibly compete for a section championship, including four Del Norte league champs who are all seeded in the top eight in their weight classes.
At 131, three-time H-DNL champion Savannah Williams is No. 3, while Channey Schaad is No. 7 at 108, Adenne Schaad is No. 8 at 145, and Aliana Sciple-Cron is No. 8 at 189.
The Huskies will also bring three girls to the big tournament — league champs Lonah Torrez (235) and Nanice Ford (118), and league runner-up Tristan Jones (123).
“The girls I have going are expected to finish well,” Fortuna head coach Steven Stockdale said.
As for expectations, Stockdale summed up what his team is hoping to achieve this weekend, and probably what most of the league is hoping to achieve.
“My hope is that when it’s done, it was all worth it,” he said. “What few people understand is how wrestling is character building in so many ways, physically and mentally, and I hope they have fun (this weekend) and that when it’s done they all feel it was all worth it.”