With the California heavyweight title already under his belt, Del Norte High junior Roger andquot;Broncandquot; McCovey will test himself against the best grapplers in the nation in Virginia the end of this month.

McCovey, along with his father Roger Boulby and Clinton Schaad, assistant wrestling coach at Del Norte High, will travel to Virginia Beach for the three-day National High School Coaches Association High School Junior Nationals Wrestling Championship and Convention, which begins on March 26.

The event has championships for all high school grade levels and features elite wrestlers from throughout the nation, including many state champs.

If McCovey places, which means he finishes in the top eight, he will be honored as an All-American selection. He would also qualify for the 2009 NHSCA High School Senior Nationals.

Also, many college wrestling coaches will be in attendance.

andquot;I'm prepared and excited about going,andquot; McCovey said. andquot;It's going to be tough. I hope I can win it. If not, I definitely want to place ... I really don't know what to expect. I don't know these guys.andquot;

andquot;It's going to be a big deal,andquot; Schaad said. andquot;He could become an All-American or win it all.andquot;

Boulby said due to the distance and cost, without assistance, his son probably would not have been able to attend the event.

Help came when businessman Bill Stamps Jr. personally started to ask the local community to help fund the trip, including donating some of the funds himself, and coming up with nearly $3,000 to help pay for the trip.

Stamps Jr., a Del Norte High graduate from the class of 1966, said McCovey's win has been a source of pride in the community.

He said he and many local citizens wanted to do their part to help McCovey wrestle in this elite event and test his mettle against the nation's best high school junior wrestlers.

andquot;It's great to have this community effort and show pride in one of our own,andquot; he said.

Boulby said it means a lot to his son and his family to have the community and Stamps Jr. help make going to Virginia Beach a reality.

andquot;It's great,andquot; he said. andquot;I'm glad someone stepped forward. It takes a lot of pressure off me and my wife ... It makes you feel good that the community has embraced him as one of their own.andquot;

andquot;It's really nice they helped out,andquot; McCovey said.

To Boulby, a former high school wrestler who is currently in charge of the Del Norte Youth wrestling program, a tournament like this will expose his son to tough competition, which will only make him better.

McCovey did not lose a single match this year and became the first wrestler in any weight division from the Humboldt-Del Norte Conference to win a state title.

He won the state heavyweight crown on March 1 in Bakersfield.

According to the NHSCA Web site, last year, over 220 college and university wrestling coaches attended the event.

More than 100 grapplers that competed in the 2006 event accepted scholarship offers and signed early with Division I colleges and universities, according to the Web site.

At the 2007 NCAA Division I finals, 9 out of the 10 NCAA Champions wrestled in the NHSCA Senior Nationals when they were high school seniors, the NHSCA Web site said.