Del Norte made a strong late push to make the team standings interesting on Saturday at the Humboldt-Del Norte Wrestling Championships in Fortuna. The Warriors were dominant with an individual title on the line, winning five of their six matches for an HDN White Star — all by fall.
Del Norte’s five league champions, plus the bonus points for five pins in the finals, helped the Warriors close a 16.5 point deficit to host Fortuna in the team standings during the last round of wrestling of the night. Del Norte even briefly grabbing a lead after the 220 pound finals, but the Huskies picked up a pin in the heavyweight finals for its third individual title, pulling out the HDN team championship by 3.5 points. Fortuna finished with 147 team points, while Del Norte came in at 143.5. Eureka took third overall with 108 points, while Hoopa was fourth with 86.5 team points.
“I said it was going to be close and that Fortuna was the team to catch and sure enough it was 3.5 points,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad. “That is one more placer, someone placing a little higher, and how you win — if you get a pin you get extra points for it, and there were a couple matches that I thought maybe we had a pin but we didn’t get it. Over a full day’s worth of wrestling that adds up. As far as our team goal goes, we are disappointed that we didn’t win a league title. We were close and we knew that it was going to be close. It is what it is though. We will keep working for next year’s league title, but right now we are going to focus on next week as we move on to the North Coast Section Meet.”
All five of Del Norte’s league champions — Blake Allen (113 pounds), Skyler Moore (128), Wyatt Schneck (132), Ta-Tes Boulby (170), and Brenden Schrader (220) — qualify for the North Coast Section Meet of Champions starting on Friday. They will be joined by teammates Justin Goudlelock, who finished second in the 160 pound weight class, and Chaz Harrison who finished third at 106 pounds. Tanner Stancliff (138), Connor Long (152) and Nolan Ridgely (145) are all alternates for the section tournament. They will fill in should one of the top three placers in their weight class from the HDN be unable to compete at James Logan High School on Friday.
Although Del Norte finished in second place overall as a team, the Warriors were easily the most dominant team once the finals rolled around.
“We had the second most amount of finalists of any team — we had six and Fortuna had seven — but Fortuna had three champs and we had five,” Schaad said. “So we went 5-1 in the finals. It is hard to knock that, and they were all pins. We were really dominant in the finals.”
Del Norte trailed Fortuna 130 to 113.5 heading into the last round, so the Warriors knew they had their work cut out for them if they were to have a chance at catching the Huskies in the team standings.
“I think we were fired up,” Allen said. “I think going in with the right mindset really helped everybody out a lot. We were just ready to go wrestle and ready to win.”
Moore had one of the most impressive days of any wrestler at the HDN Finals on Saturday. Del Norte’s sophomore 126 pounder picked up pins in 52 seconds, 26 seconds, and 32 seconds in his three matches to capture his first individual league championship after finishing as the runner up in his freshman season.
Moore ended up being selected as one of four “Most Outstanding Wrestlers” at the tournament, selected by all of the coaches in the HDN. Moore shared the lower weight title with Fortuna’s Joey Pontes, who won the 145 pound championship.
“Skyler Moore had a great tournament,” Schaad said. “He pinned all the way through and they were all first-round falls. Being a sophomore and winning a league title, and also being named a most outstanding wrestler is great for him.”
Fortuna’s Adam Medeiros (152 pounds) and Eureka’s Anthony Martinez (160) shared the upper weight most outstanding wrestler honor.
Moore started the day out strongly with a pair of quick pins to grab a spot in the finals. Moore was matched up against Fortuna’s Brandon August in the finals in one of three head-to-head finals matchups between the top two teams.
“I thought it was going to be a really tough match, but when I came out he shot on me and I sprawled,” Moore said, recalling his finals match. “I got him in a cradle and then pinned him right there in the first round.”
After falling just one match short of a league championship last year, Moore was excited to finally win a white star.
“It feels like I finally earned it,” Moore said. “I should have won last year, but I came back this year and got my white star.”
While Moore’s win earned him his first league championship, white stars have become almost the norm for senior Ta-Tes Boulby.
Boulby missed all of last season with a back injury but hasn’t seemed to have missed a beat this year. After winning league titles as a freshman and sophomore, Boulby picked up pins in both of his matches at the HDN Championships to win the 170 pound weight class.
“He has had a great year so far and was dominant all day,” Schaad said. “It is his third league title in four years, but last year he didn’t compete because of a bad back, so he is three-for-three in league titles.”
Boulby’s pin of Fortuna’s Levi Nyberg at the 3:05 mark of the championship match was Del Norte’s third win over the Huskies in their head to head matchups in the finals. All three Warriors pinned their Husky counterparts.
Junior Wyatt Schneck was also matched up against Fortuna in the finals, wrestling against Andrew Hansen.
“It felt good. It was nice to finally get a white star, especially after being out last year and not being able to wrestle with a concussion,” Schneck said. “It is what I have worked for all season pretty much, so it was nice.”
The match stayed close throughout the first period plus, but Schneck was able to score a reversal with 1:15 left in the second period and secured the pin several seconds later.
“I knew coming in that he was tough on his feet, so he was just going to take me down and cut me,” Schneck said. “I knew I had to get locked in and hold him tight on top. That is what I ended up doing and I got him in the head-and-arm at the end. It was close, he caught me a couple times and the coach said that I scared him doing that.”
Del Norte’s Brenden Schrader won his first league championship on Saturday, pinning his way through the 220 pound bracket. Schrader is the third wrestler from his family to compete for the Warriors but was the first to earn a white star in the sport.
“My brother Justin lost in the finals a couple years ago, and my brother Matt wrestled last year and cracked his shoulder, so I was trying to win for them,” Schrader said.
Despite cruising into the finals with a pair of pins in two matches, Schrader said he was nervous in his finals match against Lucindo Gable of St. Bernard’s. Schrader even said that he thought he would lose the match due to Gable’s strength early in their championship bout.
Schrader was able to buckle down, however, scoring the first points of the match with a takedown about 25 seconds into the second period. Schrader ended up taking Gable straight to his back and held him down to secure the pin in 2:30.
“I was just trying to do everything that I could,” Schrader said. “I shot on him a couple times and it didn’t really work. Then I threw him because the coaches were telling me to go for under hooks. That is what I am good at.”
Allen dropped down into the 113 pound weight class for the first time all season on Saturday, after starting the year wrestling at 126.
“Heading into the year I was hoping to make 122s, but once I hit 118 I just decided to make the jump,” Allen said.
By dropping down to 113, Allen found himself in one of the most lightly contested brackets in the HDN this year. Only Allen and Arcata’s Kevin Aultman entered into the weight class on Saturday, meaning both wrestlers took the mat for the first time all day in the finals.
“It was really slow,” Allen said. “It seemed like the day took forever.”
Allen was ready when he finally got the opportunity to wrestle, however.
“He came out with heavy hands,” Allen said. “He wanted to club on the head a lot and slap, but once I got him to the mat I was able to flip him onto his back and pin him.”
The win was the first league title of the day for Del Norte, and the first of Allen’s high school career.
“That was my goal for before I graduated, but achieving it as a sophomore just makes me really happy,” Allen said. “I worked really hard and cut a lot of weight to make 113s. I just did what I came here to do.”
Del Norte’s only other finalist of the day was Justin Goudelock, who made it to the 160 pound championship match. Schaad said he was impressed with Goudelock’s run to the finals, beating two solid wrestlers by major decision to set up a tough finals matchup against defending HDN champion Martinez. Martinez pinned Goudelock in 45 seconds to defend his league title.
Martinez was later named a co-Most Outstanding Wrestler in the upper weights, and earned the Jim Silva Award for character and sportsmanship, selected by the referees.
“He ran into a really solid wrestler out of Eureka who is a senior,” Schaad said. “Justin will be coming back though because he is just a junior.”
Freshman Chaz Harrison was Del Norte’s final automatic qualifier for the NCS Tournament. Harrison lost his first match of the day in the 106 pound bracket in a high-scoring 19-14 loss to eventual runner up Marley Harris of Arcata.
Harrison bounced back with a 16-0 win by technical fall over Fortuna’s Logan Krause in the third-place match.
“Chaz had a rough start to the day and didn’t perform as well as he hoped that he would in his first match, but he was able to bounce back and win the third-fourth place match over Fortuna,” Schaad said. “That was a nice heads up win over Fortuna there. That was one of the matches that I thought we had a pin, but we didn’t get the call.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .