Hunting for a title

Bill Choy, The Triplicate

Championships are set for today down in Fortuna

With an undefeated conference dual meet season under its belt, the Del Norte High wrestling team is ready for battle at the Humboldt-Del Norte Conference Championships today in Fortuna.

A major obstacle in its way will be defending champion Hoopa. Last year, Del Norte finished second after going undefeated in the HDN regular season, Wrestling will get under way around 11 a.m. with title matches likely starting from 3 to 4 p.m. at Fortuna High School.

Head coach Aaron Schaad said there's a lot of excitement and confidence among his wrestlers this week. A fourth place finish at the Northcoast Section Dual Championships last week certainly helped by showing them they could perform well against elite competition, Schaad said

"I'm excited to see how the kids do," he said. "The kids have been

wrestling well throughout the season and have grown a lot."

For the six Warrior seniors, performing well at the HDN Championships

is of the upmost importance.

"It mean's everything to us," senior Morgen Fischer said. He'd like

to end his Warrior wrestling experience by having the team win a title

while he takes first place in his 132-pound weight class.

Schaad believes his squad has a good chance to win five to seven

individual titles, and could win as many as 10.

While Hoopa and Del Norte are considered the favorites this year,

Schaad said his wrestlers must continue to focus.

At practice Thursday, Schaad intently watched and reminded them of

the importance of their preparation for Saturday's matches.

It helps that injuries, which struck Del Norte a few weeks back, seem

to be healed and the squad is healthy again, Schaad said.

He believes if the Warriors win about six White Star league titles

they will have a good chance to earn the HDN crown.

Several Warrior grapplers are undefeated in HDN matches this year,

including sophomores Jackson Evans, Hawk Mattz and Robert Boubly, and

seniors Andrew Napier and Austin Moore.

With the squad featuring several prominent underclassman, Schaad has

been impressed with the skills these younger wrestlers have shown to

blend well with the upperclassman.

The top three placers in each weight division will earn a berth in

the Northcoast Section Wrestling championships. Last season, eight

Warrior grapplers qualified for NCS.

Schaad encouraged local fans to show up and support the Warriors

in Fortuna and to wear the school colors to make the wrestlers feel a

bit more at home.

Senior heavyweight Isaac Terry won a White Star last year and would

love to add another one today.

"That's been my goal all year," Terry said.

This is the first year 220-pound senior grappler Austin Moore has

wrestled, but he has dominated opponents.

Moore said he was excited about today and wants to do his part to

give his fellow seniors, some who have wrestled since they were

freshman, an HDN title.

"I just want to help the team." he said. "Hopefully I can continue to

do what I've been doing and hopefully pin my opponents as fast as I

can."

Reach Bill Choy at bchoy@triplicate.com .

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Tuesday December 6, 2016

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