In its biggest test of the season to date, Del Norte High wrestling showed that its wrestlers can compete with some of the best in three states.
The Warriors finished 21st out of 55 teams from across California, Oregon and Nevada at the NorCal 'Beast of the North' Tournament in Anderson on Jan. 5andndash;6.
The 12 Del Norte wrestlers competing combined to score 73 points, 1.5 behind 20th-place Shasta High. Elk Grove High was the tournament champion with 232.5 points.
"I was pleased," Warriors coach Aaron Schaad said. "There was a lot of improvement. We got through Christmas Break and New Year's (Eve) and had a good week of practice. Most of the kids are in really good shape."
Junior Robert Boulby had the best weekend of any Warriors wrestler, claiming fourth place in the 138-pound weight class.
His big second day included a 50-second pin of Blake Nauman of Spanish Springs High (Sparks, Nev.), a Nevada state runner-up in 2012, in the consolation semifinals.
"It was a big event, a feel-good moment," Schaad said. "He was on a roll, doing good things."
Boulby held his own early in the third-place match against Davis Hallberg of Elk Grove High, according to Schaad, but Hallberg pinned Boulby after 3 minutes and 22 seconds in the second round. Boulby went 6-2 for the tournament.
Evans, a junior wrestling at 145 pounds, clinched a placement with a 45-second pin on Preston Wallers of Shasta High. Evans pulled a muscle during the match, however, and forfeited the next match to finish in eighth place (3-3).
Cristian Puente (heavyweight) and David Plechaty (195 pounds) each went 3-2 in advancing to the second day of tournament action. Hawk Mattz (152 pounds) also advanced to the second day, going 2-2.
"A lot of kids, that was just their goal - that's how tough this tournament is," Schaad said.
Eric Turner (171 pounds), and Skiler Haddad (126) each went 2-2 during the tournament's first day. Nicole Mattz (113 pounds), Justin Schrader (120), Kaleb Hurley (132), Robin Pearce (160) and Wade Mayes (220) also competed for the Warriors.
Del Norte continues its season Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with a dual meet tournament in Central Point, Ore. The Warriors will be joined by Culver (Ore.) High, Phoenix (Ore.) High, Brookings-Harbor High and tournament host Crater High. Del Norte will compete in scored dual meets against each school, with each wrestler guaranteed four bouts.
Beyond Saturday's competition, Schaad is acutely aware of Feb. 9 - the date of the California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section championships, what his team is building toward.
"We've got a month to get in better shape, polish (things) up," he said.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com.