By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

The Del Norte High wrestling squad earned a third- place finish at the Humboldt-Del Norte League Wrestling championships on Saturday in Fortuna.

Roger McCovey (215) and Andrew Walker (103) each took home first place in their respective weight divisions.

This was the second time for McCovey, a sophomore, to earn a league championship, and the first for Walker. Sherman Norton (285), Jake Young (189) and Grant Ivison (119) earned second-place honors.

Other wrestlers who placed for Del Norte included Matt Valdez (130), who earned third, while Thor Hadfield (112) and James Borders (135) placed fourth in their respective divisions.

Del Norte gained 130 points, behind Arcata with 131 points and Eureka, which had 185.5 points.

While the coaches expected to win at least two first-place titles, they had hope to earn more top finishes in the tournament.

andquot;The kids didn't wrestle as well as they could have,andquot; head coach David Bokor said. andquot;They wrestled down to their competition.andquot;

Bokor said his wrestlers need to get focused quickly. This weekend, the Warriors compete in the Northcoast Section Tournament in the Bay Area city of Newark.

The top four finishers in each division qualify for state, which takes place in March in Bakersfield, with the coaching staff expecting that Norton and McCovey will qualify.

andquot;We need to step up,andquot; Bokor said about the section tournament. andquot;They have to show up ready to wrestle.andquot;

Assistant coach Aaron Schaad said the section tournament will feature around 180 schools and will be stiff competition for the squad.

andquot;It's a pretty tough tournament,andquot; he said. andquot;Just placing is great.andquot;

At Saturday's event, Schaad said McCovey was his usual dominant self and used his quickness and power to earn first place.

andquot;He wrestled like he always does,andquot; he said.

Schaad was impressed with Ivison, who recently moved from the 112 to 119 weight division.

Despite his lack of experience in the division, he was able to garner a second place finish.

andquot;He went out there and wrestled well,andquot; Schaad said. andquot;He's getting better.andquot;

Norton faced his long-time wrestling nemesis, John Thurston of Ferndale, for the conference title in the heavyweight division. The two wrestlers have had a number of tight battles against each other over the years.

andquot;It's always close,andquot; Schaad said.

Down 2-1 with about 15 seconds left, Norton made a move that didn't work as Thurston went on to a 4-1 victory, Schaad said.