The Del Norte wrestling team will kick off the tournament portion of its postseason today at the Humboldt-Del Norte League Championships in Fortuna with wrestling scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Del Norte enters the tournament as the HDN’s dual team champions, though the Warriors earned that title thanks to a one-point dual victory over Fortuna, which ended up placing third in the North Coast Section Duals last weekend.
The Warriors and Huskies expect to be in another close battle for the team tournament championship on Saturday, though defending league champion Eureka and a small but talented Hoopa squad will likely play a significant factor in the final team standings as well.
“I would like to go down, obviously, and win a league title, but I have been saying all year that Fortuna is going to be the team to beat,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad. “We can only control what we do though. Our wrestlers have to wrestle their matches and not worry about what happens between Arcata and Hoopa, or Fortuna and Eureka.”
At this point in the season, most of the wrestlers in the HDN are fairly familiar with one another, having wrestled each school in a dual while also competing at several of the same weekend tournaments throughout the season.
“For the most part, we know each other well enough that we know who is going to be the one seed, and who is going to be the two seed,” Schaad said.
Schaad said about half of the 14 weight classes have a wrestler that is considered a prohibitive favorite to take home the league title.
“Some of the weight classes are kind of a foregone conclusion with what is going to happen. If Ta-Tes Boulby makes 170 nobody has been even close to him in the league,” Schaad explained. “St. Bernard’s has a 182-pounder that is in a similar situation — there are about seven or eight weight classes that the number one wrestler is way out in front — but the other ones is where it gets interesting. Those are the weight classes where we will find out if we are going to be second or first or third in league.”
Schaad said Warrior sophomore Skyler Moore is also likely a heavy favorite to win his 128-pound bracket.
A few of the weight classes will also likely have some new faces in them with Saturday’s tournament serving as the last chance for wrestlers to drop down a weight class before being locked in for the rest of the postseason.
“We have at least one wrestler who is planning on going into a new weight class, so that is going to change things up a little bit,” Schaad said.
Schaad said that if Allen can get down into the 113 weight class, he should be in the thick of the fight for a white star. Del Norte’s Chaz Harrison (106 pounds), Wyatt Schneck (134 pounds) and Branden Schrader (220 pounds) all have an opportunity to make a run in their respective weight classes as well.
“My goal is to have each one of my wrestlers wrestle well and wrestle to their ability, whether that is first place, third place, or winning one and losing two matches,” Schaad said. “As long as they all wrestle to their ability and what they can do the team scores will take care of themselves.”
In addition to wrestling for individual league championships and the team title, the HDN Championships also serve as a qualifying meet for the North Coast Section Meet next weekend. Each of the top three wrestlers at the HDN Championships will automatically qualify for the NCS Tournament, with the fourth-place wrestler serving as an alternate.
“If all of our kids wrestle to their potential we could have several champs, and a lot of our kids qualifying for the North Coast Section Meet,” Schaad said. “Where the team scores go from there I don’t know.”
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