The Del Norte Youth Wrestling team wrapped up its season with 24 of the programs’ top wrestlers competing at the CAUSA Kids Freestyle Wrestling State Tournament at Selland Arena in Fresno on June 1 and 2. By the end of the weekend, the Warriors had accumulated a total of 15 medals for kids placing in the top eight of their respective age and weight brackets.

“Overall we had a really good time,” said Del Norte Youth Wrestling head coach Clinton Schaad. “We had a great turnout with 24 kids making the trip. There were a couple more kids that were hoping to make it, but some things came up at the last minute. I think it is our biggest squad ever to go though, and we ended up with 15 state placers. That is great — we are pretty excited about that.”

Schaad said that the youth wrestling regular season wraps up locally at the beginning of May, but kids who are interested in competed at the state tournament continue to practice for about a month in order to stay sharp.

“The kids that go put in an extra four weeks of work,” Schaad said. “They put in the effort to go, so we went down and had a really fun time. Of course we want to do well as far as records go, we want to have more wins than losses, but really it is about building that camaraderie and letting our kids experience a bigger-sized tournament.”

The Warriors compete in the Redwood Empire Wrestling Association throughout the season, which draw lots of wrestlers from Humboldt and Del Norte. But the state meet is on another level.

“We actually have pretty large tournaments up here in Del Norte and Humboldt. We will run 350 kids at a big tournament — which is larger than a lot of tournaments out there for associations statewide,” Schaad said. “When we go to the state tournament though, there are 1,200 kids there and they have 15 wrestling mats all in one big event center with big seating and an announcer. So they get to see this larger-scale tournament. They can get a little intimidated, because they are human, but they get that first win and they figure out that everybody is kind of on the same playing field.”

Del Norte fared pretty well on the mats as the Warriors collected a total of 15 medals. In fact, all six of the girls who made the trip ended up leaving with a souvenir. Josie Dowd ended up with the highest placing of any of Del Norte’s wrestlers — taking first place in the Bantam 85+ weight class as the only wrestler in her bracket.

“The girls did really well down there,” Schaad said. “They didn’t have really big brackets but they all had matches except for Josie — which was too bad because she worked her tail off. She worked really hard, she went to the extra practices and went down there. They had one boy bigger than her but they wouldn’t let them wrestle because of the size difference, and she wasn’t too much bigger than the weight class below. She earned her medal in practice though. She did a good job.”

Channey Schaad went 1-1 to finish in second place out of three wrestlers in the Schoolgirl 97 pound class. Aliana Sciple finished in third out of the four wrestlers in the Schoolgirl 185 pound class, and Kalynn Schaad was third of three in the Novice-Girls 110 weightclass. Adenne Schaad finished 2-2 in the Schoolgirl 136-145 bracket to take fifth place, while Autumn Turner took fifth place out of five in the Cadet Girls 164 bracket.

Most of the Del Norte boys ended up in larger brackets in Fresno than their female counterparts, but the Warriors still had a strong presence on the podium.

William McCovey was the Warriors’ top placing male as he finished as the runner up in the Novice-Boys 117 pound bracket. McCovey started off with pins in 49 and 30 seconds and a 6-0 win by decision before falling in the championship match.

“Will is a really nice kid and a really hard worker,” Schaad said. “It was fun to see him go down there and place so highly.”

Eric Stansbury also went through his Schoolboy 90 pound bracket with just one loss, ultimately coming away with a third-place finish. Stansbury won his first two matches before falling to the eventual champion. Stansbury then bounced back to win a 10-4 decision and a 4-2 decision to take third place.

“Eric is a newer wrestler,” Schaad said. “He started wrestling last year, just kind of fell in love with the sport, and has been training ever since. Last year he went down there and I think he went 0-2 and this year he went down and had some really good matches against some tough competition.”

Ka-Get Dowd also had a strong performance for Del Norte, finishing in fourth place in the Novice-Boys 108 pound wieghtclass. Dowd went 4-2 overall in the tournament with both of his losses coming against the same wrestler. Dowd’s run included wins over fellow Warriors Colton Schaad and David Risling-Gensaw, although Risling-Gensaw was able to battle back to a seventh-place finish.

“Ka-get had a great run,” Schaad said. “He had to knock off some of his teammates along the way, which is kind of a bummer. We wish they would have met each other in the higher placing rounds. He ended up going 4-2 though — he lost to the same kid twice, but all four of his wins were by tech fall.”

Del Norte also had David Burshem finish in sixth place (Intermediate-Boys 49 pounds). Amaziah Cole (Intermediate-Boys 84 pounds), Risling-Gensaw, and Alex Cole (Novice-Boys 117) all finished in seventh place in there respective brackets. Julian Delillo (Novice-Boys 98 pounds) and Reynaldo Martinez (Schoolboy 125 pounds) rounded out the Del Norte medalists with eighth place finishes in Fresno.

“We had a really good time and the kids wrestled really well,” Schaad said. “I think we were 18th as a team, and there were 220 teams listed there. It was a really good time and a really good tournament. The kids wrestled great.”

Although Del Norte had a lot of success on the mats inside Selland Arena, Schaad said that was only part of the goal of the trip for the young group of Warriors.

“The kids are working hard and the future is bright,” he said. “They have a lot of fun and that is really the name of the game right now with youth sports, and with our youth wrestling — we want to have a lot of fun. There is plenty of time for kids to get more serious, if they want to, as they get older. But we are down there to compete, have fun, check out the pool at the hotel, and we went out for pizza one of the nights with a bunch of the kids. We just had a really good time.”

Schaad said Del Norte Youth Wrestling will start signups for the 2020 season in December.

“If people have any questions they can check out our Facebook page (Del Norte Youth Wrestling),” he said.

Reach Michael Zogg .