By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
For the first time since 2000, a Del Norte High wrestler took first in the North Coast Section Wrestling championships in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday.
Sophomore Roger McCovey (215) garnered the top spot in his division and will go on to the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships in Bakersfield, which starts on Friday. He is ranked seventh in his weight division in the state.
"It feels good to do this good at my grade (level)," McCovey said. "Hopefully, I can do it two more times after this."
Joining him will be senior Sherman Norton (285), who finished second in his division. The top four wrestlers in each division make state.
Senior Andrew Walker (103) finished eighth, while senior Jake Young (189) just missed placing.
Overall, the Warriors were the highest ranked Big 5 Conference team, finishing 13th out of 80 teams.
Head Coach David Bokor said he was impressed with the way McCovey wrestled against tough competition.
Even more impressive was the fact McCovey was fighting flu like symptoms on Saturday and was still able to win his division championship.
"Like a good wrestler does, he overcame (not feeling well) and did what he had to do to win," he said.
While he may not have been feeling 100 percent, McCovey said he just tried to put that aside and wrestle to the best of his abilities.
When he won his final match versus John Merryfield of De La Salle 7-2, McCovey said all the fatigue he was feeling went away, and excitement overtook him.
Norton fared quite well at section, even defeating long-time local rival John Thurston of Ferndale in the semifinals.
Bokor said he was pleased with how Norton wrestled.
Even in the loss in the championship to Matt Zonfrello of College Park, Bokor liked the tenacity which Norton wrestled and how he competed hard until the final second ticked off the clock. Norton lost the match 7-4.
Norton, who is now 2-2 for the year against Thurston, was pleased to get the win against him.
"It felt good," he said. "The coaches believed in me, and I wanted it more than him."
While he lost the championship match, Norton believes he has what it takes to defeat Zonfrello and hopes they will face one another sometime during the state tournament.
Norton is determined to at least place in state and hopes all the hard work he has put into wrestling this year will pay off this weekend.
Now is the time for McCovey and Norton to wrestle at the top of their abilities and see how they stack up against the best in the state, Bokor said.
With the competition level so high, any wrestler at state can do well on a given day.
"Now, it depends on who is on their game on the day of the match," he said.
Norton, McCovey and the coaching staff leave for Bakersfield Wednesday afternoon after practice.