The Del Norte wrestling team fought its way to a sixth-place team finish out of 28 teams at the 2014 Redwood Empire Classic in Ukiah on Saturday.
The Warriors had seven of the 14 wrestlers that competed finish in the top eight at the tournament.
“The kids wrestled well,” said Del Norte assistant coach Clinton Schaad. “We beat some teams that had beaten us at Anderson. We were pretty happy with the overall performance. We have kind of been building momentum the last few weeks.”
Seniors Hawk Mattz and Eric Turner were the highest placers over the weekend, finishing third at 152 and 172 respectively.
Mattz ran into one of the top wrestlers in the country in the semifinals in Cardinal Newman’s P.J. Klee.
Klee is a three-time high school All-American and a two-time national champion. He is currently ranked second in the state at 138 pounds, but he wrestled two weight classes above his class at the tournament. Klee was able to pin Mattz with just 13 seconds left in the final period, but he had a healthy lead at the time.
Mattz finished the day with a 4-1 record.
Eric Turner reached the quarterfinals, where he was caught and pinned by Lower Lake High School’s Ryan Dahneke. That was Turner’s only loss of the day however. He finished up with an 18-9 decision over Dahneke in the third-place match.
Willie Gensaw finished fourth at 108 pounds with a 3-2 record. Nicole Mattz was 2-3 to finish sixth at 115. Robin Pierce and Chris Puente both took seventh place, Pierce at 147 and Puente at 122. Justin Schrader also grabbed a place, finishing eighth at 128 pounds.
The Warriors were happy about how they wrestled on Saturday, but they have a quick turnaround for a big Humboldt-Del Norte dual with Eureka today.
“We are the last undefeated team in the HDN, so we are guaranteed a share of the league title,” Schaad said. “We would like to go undefeated though. It would help us get a better seed in the North Coast Section Duals.”
Del Norte expects a close dual in Eureka. The Loggers tied McKinleyville in their dual earlier in the season and the Panthers ended up winning on criteria. The Warriors were able to squeak out a five-point victory over McKinleyville last week that came down to the final match of the dual.
Schaad said he expects this match to come down to how the teams match up. Schaad said he expects Eureka to be particularly strong in the upper weights, whereas McKinleville was tough in the lower weights.
“I think it will come down to our lower weights and middle weights,” Schaad said. “Last week it was our upper weights that wrestled well against McKinlleyville, this time it is going to have to be our middle and lower weight wrestlers.”