Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

After tough tourney in Santa Rosa, Warriors host McKinleyville

For as many setbacks as the Del Norte High wrestling team has endured this season, the Warriors are attempting to show gains in skill and aptitude in equal measure.

Case in point: A decent performance at a big tournament. Del Norte finished with 29 points, tied for 20th with Petaluma High, at the Maria Carrillo Puma Classic wrestling tournament in Santa Rosa on Saturday.

Vacaville High claimed the team title with 244 points, followed by College Park High of Pleasant Hill (170) and Gregori High of Modesto (125).

Robert Boulby continued his standout season as the lone placer for the Warriors, finishing in third place in the 140-pound weight class. Four other Del Norte wrestlers - juniors Jackson Evans (147 pounds), David Plechaty (197) and Cristian Puente (222) and freshman Justin Schrader (115) andshy;- fell one match result short of placing.

What could have been a great tournament for the Warriors turned out to be a good one.

"They've been working hard," Del Norte assistant coach Clint Schaad said. "They seem to be improving. The whole team's kind of making a shift together."

The Warriors are still affected greatly by injuries, illness and attrition that have left the team without a full lineup for most of the season. Del Norte traveled 10 wrestlers to Santa Rosa, and coaches continue to juggle dual meet lineups due to availability.

"We have a bum ear, bum knee, we've got an ankle (injury), a broken tooth ..." Schaad said, listing the team's various maladies. "Grades are getting posted; we'll see how that goes.

"We'll take sickness now as long as we can be healthy by (the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League championships). We're definitely a different team than we started the season as."

The next step in the quest for a league title comes Wednesday, as Del Norte hosts McKinleyville High in its first home meet in almost two months. The Warriors and Panthers will weigh in at 5:30 p.m. and take to the mat at 6:30 p.m.

"I don't know where McKinleyville is at with their lineup," Schaad said. "It depends on the day."

The Warriors are 1-3 in dual meet action among Humboldt-Del Norte teams, having defeated St. Bernard's and lost to Arcata, Hoopa and Fortuna. Del Norte will host Eureka in a dual meet scheduled for Feb. 6.

Following the McKinleyville dual, the Warriors will focus on another big weekend of competition.

Del Norte is scheduled to participate in the Mission San Jose Invitational wrestling tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Mission San Jose High School. Sixty-nine teams from six sections and the state of Oregon are scheduled to participate.

Warriors sophomore Nicole Mattz has bigger things on her mind. Mattz will be competing in the California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Girls' Championship, held Friday and Saturday in Pittsburg.

Mattz, wrestling in the 108-pound weight class, has a 0-2 record on the season in varsity competition. She will face Rancho Cotate High sophomore Emily Mackey (13-8 record) in the first round.

The lone female on the Del Norte High squad this season, Mattz finished fifth at 108 pounds in the 2012 North Coast Section Girls' Championship.

"She hopes to improve on last year's finish," Schaad said. "She wants to qualify for the state tournament. She wrestles guys 99 percent of the time and beats them."

Reach Robert Husseman at