With our first issue of 2018, the Del Norte Triplicate is wrapping up our look back at some of the top stories of last year.
2017 was chock full of champions and deep postseason runs for Del Norte’s various athletic teams, making it easy to come up with items for this list but difficult to actually rank.
While the order we picked could be debated, these top five athletes and teams certainly had a heck of a year.
1. Softball wins North Coast Section Division IV Tournament
For just the second time in school history, the Del Norte softball team swept its way through the North Coast Section Division IV softball tournament in 2017 to capture its first NCS championship since 2008.
The Warriors finished the year with a 20-10 overall record after finishing the regular season in second place in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 behind a loaded Fortuna team for the second year in a row. The Huskies drew the No. 1 seed in the NCS tournament while Del Norte was seeded No. 2.
Fortuna was upset in the first round of the playoffs, however, and Del Norte picked up a 7-2 win over Lower Lake and a 10-0 win over Kelseyville. The NCS title game went down to the wire as St. Mary’s was able to put runners on second and third base with two outs in the seventh inning, trailing 3-1. But sophomore Allison Douglas came through with a strikeout to secure the victory.
Unfortunately for Del Norte, St. Mary’s officially played the game under protest, accusing the Warriors of gaining an unfair competitive advantage by holding batting practice within two hours of the start of the championship game. The Warriors admitted to the activity, but claimed they believed it qualified as soft toss, which is allowed up until game time. On Aug. 17, the NCS ruled in favor of St. Mary’s and officially stripped the championship from Del Norte, awarding St. Mary’s a victory by forfeit in the NCS championship game. Del Norte is officially the 2017 runner up.
North Coast Section Commissioner Gil Lemmon told the Triplicate that it was the first time an NCS school has been required to forfeit a championship game that he could remember.
2. Volleyball’s successful postseason run, Lorenzi retires
After sharing the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 volleyball championship with Arcata in three of the previous four seasons, the Warriors opened play in 2017 with their sights set squarely on sole possession of a league title.
An undefeated HDN Big 5 regular season secured a league championship for Del Norte, but the Warriors were just getting started. Del Norte drew the No. 4 seed in the NCS Division IV tournament and matched the school’s best postseason run ever with a 3-0 win over El Molino and a 3-1 win over Cardinal Newman to reach the NCS semifinals.
The Warriors were eventually knocked out of the NCS tournament by top-seeded Branson.
Although Del Norte volleyball had previously reached the NCS semifinals in 2000, the California Interscholastic Federation has since changed the way it structures the CIF State Volleyball Tournament so the Warriors inclusion in the NorCal Region of the state tournament was a first for Del Norte.
The Warriors went on to pick up a 3-0 victory over University Prep before being knocked out of the state tournament in an epic 3-2 struggle against Colfax.
Following the loss, Debbie Lorenzi officially announced that this season would be her last as the head coach of the Del Norte volleyball team.
Though most every sport has had significant success in Del Norte through the years, few high school programs in the country have had the kind of consistent success that the Warriors have enjoyed since Lorenzi took over the program in 1980.
The Warriors won their first league championship under Lorenzi in 1989 and won an incredible 16 straight league titles before she stepped aside after the 2005 season. Debbie and her husband Pablo continued to help the team under then-head coach Meagan Curtis as the Warriors’ title streak reached 20 straight seasons. Debbie Lorenzi then filled in for 2009, when Curtis missed much of the season due to a pregnancy, as the Warriors won their 21st straight league title.
After three years away from the team, Debbie Lorenzi reclaimed her head coaching position in 2012 and again pushed the Warriors to the top of the league standings, sharing co-Big 5 championships with Arcata in 2013, 2014, and 2016 before claiming sole possession of the league with an undefeated Big 5 season this year.
3. Garrett McAlexander is the top heavyweight in the NCS
After spending his first two years of high school on the junior varsity basketball team, Del Norte’s Garrett McAlexander finally decided to give high school wrestling a try in 2016.
Del Norte’s big 285-pound wrestler immediately proved he had a penchant for the sport and in 2017 McAlexander became the first Warrior since 2009 to win a North Coast Section championship.
McAlexander wrapped up his high school wrestling career with his second straight trip to the CIF State Wrestling Tournament.
4. Girls tennis unbeaten while winning 2nd straight HDN title
The girls tennis team secured its second straight HDN League team championship this season by turning in Del Norte’s first undefeated regular season since 2007.
Though every girl on the team lost at least a couple matches here or there throughout the year, as a team the Warriors were rock solid. In addition to a 14-0 regular season, Del Norte has now won 16 straight regular season matches as a team, while winning 35 of their last 36 matches over the past three years.
The Warriors wrapped up their season with a trip to the NCS Division II Team Championships, where they fell to No. 1 seeded and eventual champion Piedmont.
5. Boys soccer makes second ever NCS playoff appearance
The Del Norte boys soccer team completed one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2017 with a 9-8 overall season.
After finishing in the top half of the HDN League with an 8-6 record in the regular season, Del Norte went 1-1 in the first ever Humboldt-Del Norte postseason soccer tournament.
The Warriors were rewarded with the No. 13 seed in the NCS Division I tournament. It was the first NCS berth for Del Norte since 1995, and just the second ever playoff appearance in school history for the Warriors.