Hawk Mattz earns third straight league title as Del Norte finishes in third place overall

If surviving and advancing to the North Coast Section tournament is the goal at the Humboldt-Del Norte Championships, then Saturday has to be considered a success for the Del Norte wrestling team.

The Warriors only had 13 wrestlers compete at the Humboldt-Del Norte League Tournament in Arcata on Saturday due to injury, but 10 of them wrestled well enough to earn a spot in the 2014 North Coast Wrestling Championships.

"The technique is coming along and they look good," said Del Norte head coach Aaron Schaad. "We are looking forward to going down to sections and enjoying ourselves. We have 10 going and four or five with a legitimate chance to make some noise down there, and the rest are just looking to get some experience down there."

The Warriors ended the day in third place, just behind Eureka. McKinleyville won the team championship.

"We were second all day, then in the finals, we went 1-for-6 and they won 4-of-8 or something like that and they edged us out," Schaad said.

Senior Hawk Mattz was the highest finisher for Del Norte. Mattz became a four-time NCS qualifier and three-time Humboldt-Del Norte Champion by sweeping his way through the 152-pound bracket. Mattz is also the highest rated wrestler for Del Norte, currently ranked fifth in the North Coast Section in the 152 weight class.

"I have been around Hawk since he was little," Schaad said. "Most of the time, when it comes to game time and the pressure is on, he wrestles at a level higher. He is not a kid that freezes up."

Del Norte had five other wrestlers advance to the finals, before finishing second. Willie Gensaw was the runner up at 108 pounds.

Gensaw ran into McKinleyville's Joshua Casaueira, who is ranked eighth in the section.

Eric Turner also had a difficult match in the finals against Eureka's Kolton Martin, who is ranked second at 172 in the NCS.

Justin Schrader finished as the runner up in the 132-pound bracket, and Roberto Aguilar moved down a class to 184 to place second. George Jobb rounded out the team's second place finishes at 285 pounds.

All seven of the rest of the Warriors were able to advance to the third-fourth place match, where a win would allow them a spot in sections.

Marcus Henderson, Colson Turner and Chris Puente were all able to pull out wins at 115, 128 and 220 pounds respectively to advance.

Turner's match was perhaps the most exciting of the third-place matches.

"He was trailing in the third round late, then he got a take down and a three-point near fall," Schaad said. "He was still down by one, so he let the guy up, baited him to his feet and pulled off a move from the front that took the kid from his feet to his back to score another near fall to win by two."

Robin Pearce lost a closethird-place match in overtime against Sammy Humphrey ofFortuna. He was able to earn a spot in the NCS tournament as an alternate, however. McKinleyville's Tanner King, who finished second at 160, hurt his leg in the finals and will not be able to wrestle next weekend. Although Pearce is an alternate, Schaad is confident he will do well in the NCS.

"Robin will win a couple matches down there," Schaad said. "I don't doubt that."

It was the last wrestling match in the career of senior wrestler Adan Brambilia, who ended up finishing fourth at 120 pounds. The senior only wrestled with Del Norte for one year, moving from Brookings after his junior year, but his presence will be missed next season.

"He hustled all year long, he worked as hard as anybody in the room." Schaad said. "Unfortunately he was fourth so that is the end of his season and he is a senior. I told Adan that I have been really impressedby his work ethic. He never talked back. We are going to be missing him next year."

Qualifying wrestlers will travel to Newark Memorial High School next Friday for the first day of the two-day NCS Championships.

Nicole Mattz, who sat out of the HDN Championships, will head to Visalia for the 2014 CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships on Friday. Mattz earned a spot in the 111-pound bracket with a dominant performance in the Girls NCS Championships on her way to winning the section title.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.