By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Warriors are continuing to set the standard on the H-DN mats.
On Wednesday night, the Warriors defeated Eureka 66-12 in their final dual meet of the season and closed out a sixth consecutive undefeated league dual meet campaign.
The league champions will now turn their attention to Saturday’s North Coast Section Division-2 Dual Meet Championships, which will be held at American Canyon High School.
After that, it’s on to the H-DN Championships at Fortuna next week, followed by the NCS and State Championships.
The Del Norte boys appear ready to make some noise in the postseason, and they’ll be hoping to clinch a first-ever dual meet section title after placing second in each of the past three tournaments, although it won’t be easy going up against some far bigger schools in the field.
“It’s been a good year so far, but the main stuff is coming up,” Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad said. “We’d like to win (on Saturday). We’ve been close the last few years. But for us, it’s just a matter of performing as best we can, and as long as we can do that we’ll keep our heads up and whatever happens happens.”
They will carry some momentum into the playoffs after a dominating win over the Loggers.
One particularly noteworthy performance on Wednesday was Karlye Dodson, who got her first win of the year for the Del Norte girls.
“She looked really good and did a lot of things right,” Schaad said. “Everybody else wrestled pretty well.”
The head coach also praised the Del Norte youth wrestling program, which has played a big part in preparing the wrestlers for the sport at the high school level and helping with the program’s success the past few years.
“The guys work hard, and a lot of it comes out of our youth program,” he said. “Plus they make each other better.”
Huskies win at Arcata
The Fortuna Huskies closed out their dual meet campaign with a 54-28 win at Arcata on Tuesday and placed second in league.
The Fortuna boys got off to a slow start and trailed 22-6 after dropping four of the opening five matches, three by pin.
But the Huskies rallied to win seven straight matches to secure the team victory.
And head coach Steven Stockdale believes his young wrestlers are maturing together.
“They are starting to have expectations of each other, and holding each other accountable,” he said. “They’re starting to develop their own sense of team and it’s just great to see.”
The Huskies have enjoyed plenty of success this winter, placing first at both the McKinleyville and Eureka tournaments, as well as third at the Maria Carrillo’s Puma Classic and sixth at the Del Norte tournament.
On Tuesday, Jacob August got the team’s only early win at 138 pounds, defeating Arcata’s Paolo Bosques-Paulet, whom he had lost to earlier in the season.
Cayden Spiers (106), Diego Cruz (152), Orion Cahill (160), Wyatt McKnight (182) and Gabe Hamlin (170) each also won with a pin, as did senior heavyweight Leeland Cook, a first-year wrestler who has quickly taken to the sport.
Philip Ellebretch (195) and Tyson Evanow (115) each also won by forfeit.
The Fortuna girls are also expected to make some noise at the upcoming league championships.
Senior Lonna Torrez is a two-time defending league champion and will look to complete the hat trick when the Huskies host the big meet.
Likewise with junior Chloe Cox, another two-time defending league champ, while Lindsey Bibby is expected to battle for her first league title.
“They’re tough,” Stockdale said of his girls. “And they’ve got good grades too.”
Tigers continue to build momentum
It has been a good season so far for the Arcata grapplers, and they’re not done yet.
Under the guidance of second-year head coach Cass Bell, the Tigers have had a number of strong performances and that continued to be the case against Fortuna this week.
Dakota Sanders, Isaiah Bell, Talon Billarruel and Joshua Hannan all won their matches.
River Mattole also had a good showing and has been a pleasant surprise in his first year ever wrestling.
“He’s right there,” Bell said of Mattole. “He just needs more practice.”
All in all, it was another good team performance.
“I was happy with how my team performed.” Bell added. “All my kids did great. Most of them were winning before they got turned. I was definitely happy.”
Bell has doubled the size of his roster in his second year and the program appears to be headed in the right direction.
“Next year, they’ll be more experienced,” he said. “But I’m always proud of my kids. They never give up and always give their best.”
Smith shines for Panthers in dual meet
Kevin Smith is the latest McKinleyville Panther to impress on the mats, as the team continues to make some noise ahead of the league championships.
Competing in a dual meet against Hoopa this week, Smith was one of the highlight performers for the Panthers, coming form behind to win his match at 160 with a pin.
Lucas Dickey also has been a pleasant surprise for the team this winter in just his second year wrestling.
“He’s worked hard and he’s looking to end the season on a positive note,” head coach Virgil Moorehead said of Dickey. “I’m really pleased with my young team.”
The Panthers have 18 wrestlers on the roster, a good number for the smallest of the Big 5 schools.
Brandon Hillegeist also impressed at last weekend’s Ukiah tournament, beating some wrestlers he had lost to earlier in the season and showing signs of progress.
Hillegeist placed fifth at the 30-team two-day tournament and knocked off the Nos. 4, 6 and 7 seeds in his bracket despite not being seeded.
Junior Jace Thomson also had a good showing at Ukiah and placed third at 147, while senior Willy Baumgarten is expected to make some noise in the upcoming league meet and possibly at the NCS meet.
“We’re wrestling pretty good right now,” Moorehead said.
Hoopa won this week’s dual meet.
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