Several locals jump at the chance to wrestle for CR

Ray Hamill/ – Arcata’s Dakota Sanders, right, wrestles Del Norte’s Alex Osborne at this year’s H-DNL championships in Fortuna.

By Ray Hamill — New College of the Redwoods wrestling head coach Brandon Benvenuti has been busy recruiting since taking over the position a month ago.

The Corsairs will compete in men’s wrestling this fall for the first time in more than four decades and they will field a women’s team in the spring for the first time ever.

And with a just a few months before their return, Benvenuti knows he has to hit the ground running.

“It’s going pretty well,” the new coach said of recruiting. “We’ve got about nine guys on the men’s side and about five women.”

Benvenuti says he hopes to have rosters of between 15 and 20 wrestlers on each team, although he admits that might not happen in the program’s first year back.

However, he has added several local recruits, most of whom are happy to be able to compete locally at the collegiate level in their chosen sport.

In addition to Del Norte’s four-time H-DNL champion Adenne Schaad, who recently committed to wrestle at CR, Benvenuti also has received commitments from former Eureka Loggers Maize Fugate and Kelli Johnston.

“They’re just real excited to be able to come home and wrestle locally,” the head coach said of the Eureka graduates. “They both seem very committed.”

The men’s team, meanwhile, will feature three former H-DNL grapplers, as well as some from a successful Ukiah High program,.

Arcata’s Dakota Sanders and Issac Weaver will join the team, along with McKinleyville’s Willie Baumgarten.

Photo by Jennifer Johnston – Kelli Johnston in action for Eureka last year.

Sanders and Baumgarten both are coming off impressive senior campaigns.

Sanders, who won the 2023 H-DNL title at 113 pounds, placed second in the NCS this past winter, and was one of four H-DNL wrestlers to qualify for the prestigious state meet, while Baumgarten placed fourth in sections.

The additions are just the start for Benvenuti.

“I’m just trying to build connections in the community and build relationships,” he said. “And I think it’s important that these student-athletes understand they’re student-athletes, that they’re here for school as much as for wrestling.”

Leave a Reply