SCHEDULE

DECEMBER 2nd HOME
Battle at the Border

DECEMBER 9th AWAY
at McKinleyville Invitational

DECEMBER 15-16 AWAY
at Grants Pass Winter Kickoff

JANUARY 5-6 AWAY
NorCal Championships (Anderson)

JANUARY 10th AWAY
Del Norte at McKinleyville (Dual)

JANUARY 13th AWAY
Rogue River Tournament

JANUARY 17th AWAY
Del Norte at Eureka (Dual)

JANUARY 20th AWAY
Eureka Invitational

JANUARY 27th AWAY
Crater Classic (Dual Tournament)

JANUARY 30th HOME
Del Norte vs Arcata

FEBRUARY 3rd AWAY
Ukiah Tournament

FEBRUARY 6th HOME
Del Norte vs Fortuna

FEBRUARY 10th, TBD
NCS Dual Meet Championships

FEBRUARY 17 AWAY
HDN Championships (Fortuna)

FEBRUARY 23-24 AWAY
NCS Championships (Union City)

The Del Norte wrestling team lost its most successful wrestlers from a season ago, but the Warriors have a lot of grapplers returning to the team this season, and even more athletes with previous experience in the sport.

“We have a really good group of kids in here that are working hard and being scrappy,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad. “As the season goes on everybody kind of finds their way — they find which weight class they do best in and the team works itself out. As we go on we will get more into a routine. Early in the year we work a lot on entry-level basic things.”

Like every season, the first few weeks of practice focus on conditioning and brushing up on the basics of the sport. But with 18 Warriors returning to the team and 27 of the 31 kids still on the roster as of Monday with previous wrestling experience, Schaad said preseason practices have been moving more quickly than usual.

“Having returning wrestlers and having experience in the room has been big for us so far,” Schaad said. “Historically we don’t have big squads very often, but for the last couple years we have done of good job of having kids come out and staying on the team. Having 26 or 27 kids on the team with wrestling experience has allowed us to practice with a much faster pace.

“The kids who are new to the sport are benefiting too because their partner has experience. I am able to put them against an experienced wrestler one day, then match them up with a difference wrestler with experience the next. So they are getting different looks and the new kids are really catching up quickly.”

All three of Del Norte’s 2016 Humboldt-Del Norte League Champions graduated at the end of last year, but the Warriors still have one HDN champion on the squad in senior Ta Tes Boulby. Boulby won the 160-pound title as a freshman and the 170 championship as a sophomore, but was forced to sit out last season with an injury.

“I am just excited to come back,” Boulby said. “My back has been feeling pretty good. It’s feeling a lot stronger than it was. I think I’m pretty close to 100 percent.”

In addition to Boulby, the Warriors have three wrestlers who finished second in the HDN last year, and all three qualified for the North Coast Section Championships.

Sophomore Skyler Moore had the most successful section tournament of the returning wrestlers, surviving until the second day of competition before being knocked out shortly before the medal rounds. Fellow sophomore Cruz Cerros and junior Braydon Henderson are also both back after finishing as the HDN runner ups in their brackets last season.

In addition to Boulby, the Warriors expect to have three other seniors in their lineup: Demitry Mullen, Brenden Schrader and Andrew Crespo.

Mullen has been wrestling with the Warriors varsity over the past three seasons, and Schaad said Crespo had some wrestling experience in Texas before moving to Northern California this school year. Schrader has been wrestling with the Warriors for a couple seasons now as well, but the big Warrior was stuck on the JV roster behind NCS heavyweight champion Garrett McAlexander. Although Schrader wasn’t able to wrestle in varsity tournaments with McAlexander in the lineup, he has had plenty of high-caliber competition over the years as McAlexander’s primary practice partner.

“It is hard, but you have to push yourself, so I just pushed myself to get stronger. I actually did pretty well in a few matches with (McAlexander), and I got a couple big guys on the ground last year,” Schrader said. “I learned a lot from him. It’s important to keep your ground and stay up. You just have took keep moving and not get yourself into bad positions.”

Schaad said the Warriors class of eight freshmen is also relatively experienced as seven of the wrestlers have previous experience with Del Norte Youth Wrestling.

Schaad said with the current 31 wrestlers, the Warriors should be able to fill out every weight class by the end of the season, but the team won’t start thinking about that much until January.

The Warriors will open their season on Saturday with their only home tournament of the year — the Battle at the Border. Del Norte’s home tournament will feature 14 teams from Oregon and California.

“We have been doing a lot of running and a lot of hard wrestling to increase our lung capacity,” Mullen said. “We have also been working on just wrestling tough. We are ready for Saturday.”

Wrestling is set to begin on Saturday at 9 a.m. at the high school, with finals expected to begin at about 4 p.m. The Battle at the Border will be fans’ only chance to see the Warriors in Del Norte until a Jan. 30 dual against Arcata.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.

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