Del Norte has a lot of new faces in the wrestling room this winter.
The Warriors head into the season with eight wrestlers with high school experence. The other 10 kids have yet to wrestle in high school.
“We are a young team; 80 percent of the team is a freshman or sophomore,” said head coach
The Warriors have five seniors on the roster, but are missing seniors wrestlers David Plechaty and Jackson Evans, who will miss the season due to injuries.
“We are missing a lot of key wrestlers, a lot of seniors that I have wrestled with for my whole life, to injuries, which sucks, but we came back with a lot of freshmen this year,” said senior Eric Turner, whose little brother Kolson is a freshman on the team.
Although Del Norte doesn’t have a lot of experience, Turner doesn’t think that having a young team will translate to having a weak team this season.
“It isn’t what you think,” he said. “Suprisingly everybody is picking it up pretty well. A lot of the younger kids have wrestled in the past as youth wrestlers, so they are not too far off. They are picking up the conditioning and everything pretty well.”
The young wrestlers are picking things up so quickly, senior Hunter Mattz estimated that the team has already learned more moves in practice this year than it had at this point last season.
“We are looking stronger than we did last year,” Mattz said. “We have more numbers and we are picking up technique a lot faster than we have before.”
Early in the season, Schaad expects the younger wrestlers to take some losses. He wants to make sure that they wrestle hard.
“I just want to see a competitive spirit,” Shaad said. “You can coach a lot of the other things, but you can’t coach the fearlessness. Just getting out there, attacking and having faith that you are picking up what you have been drilling.”
Del Norte will return eight wrestlers with previous high school experience. Turner and Mattz will likely be the team top wrestlers this season.
“Those will be our two kids that lead the pack this year, and they lead the pack in the practice room too,” Shaad said. “They have a great work ethic, you never get a back-talk out of them, they work harder than anybody else in here and they are first in line to sprint and help out extra. Usually seniors want to slack off, but these kids are squared away and they are doing a good job.”
Mattz and Turner’s work ethics seem to have rubbed off some on the rest of the team.
“These guys are working just as hard as any team I have ever had in the first three weeks of practice,” Shaad said. “They are listening, being respectful, soaking up all the technique. They are a good group of young kids.”
Del Norte kicks off the season at home in the Battle at the Border today.
“We encourage the entire community to come because it is one of the very few times we will be wrestling at home,” Shaad said.
There will be a $3 entry fee to attend the tournament. Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. with the finals estimated to start around 5:30 p.m.
Del Norte will not wrestle at home for over a month after the Battle at the Border. The only other home meets they have are a pair of dual meets on Jan. 21 and 28.
Dec. 7 Battle at the Border
Dec. 14 McKinleyville Tournament
Dec. 20-21 Grants Pass Tournament
Jan. 3-4 Anderson Tournament
Jan. 11 Eureka Tournament
Jan. 18 Eagle Point Tournament
Jan. 21 Arcata & Ferndale at home
Jan. 28 Fortuna & St. Bernard’s at home
Feb. 1 Maria Carillo Tournament (Santa Rosa)
Feb. 5 McKinleyville & Hoopa at McKinleyville
Feb. 11 Eureka & South Fork at South Fork
Feb. 15 NCS Dual Meet Championship at McKinleyville
Feb. 22 HDN League Championship
Feb. 28-March 1 NCS Sectional Championships
March 5-7 CIF State Championship