A month after the official end to the Del Norte Youth Wrestling season at the Redwood Empire Wrestling Association championships, a total of 16 Warriors headed south to Fresno to take on a little bit tougher competition at the CAUSA Kids Freestyle Wrestling Championships, held at Selland Arena June 1–3.
Del Norte was well represented at the prestigious tournament with 10 wrestlers placing in the top six in their respective age divisions and weight classes. Included in the 10 medalists at the meet were six Warriors who placed in the top three with three Del Norte wrestlers finishing in second place.
“It was a really fun trip. I felt like we competed well and probably had more wins than we have ever had before,” said Del Norte Youth Wrestling head coach Clinton Schaad. “I thought that we wrestled really well down there from top to bottom. Last year we had some kids that wrestled well but maybe didn’t wrestle up to their full potential — this year I felt like everybody really competed well down there. We were in a lot of matches.”
Leading the way for Del Norte was a trio of Warriors who wrestled their way into the state finals.
Robert “Big Daddy” Reyes-Villegas finished as the runner up in the intermediate 105 pound weight class, Channey Schaad took second in the girls novice 82 pound bracket, and Adenne Schaad also took second place wrestling in the School Girl 145 pound bracket.
Amaziah Cole (bantam, 85 pounds), Russel Walters Jr. (intermediate, 120++), and Vincent Tracy (School Boy, 250) all fought their way back in the double elimination tournaments to win their consolation brackets and take third place overall.
Ray Martinez ended up in fourth place in the novice 108 bracket, but Martinez had to win a lot of matches to place that highly, going 5-2 overall in a bracket filled with 20 wrestlers.
With wrestlers like Martinez piling up a lot of wins at the tournament, Schaad said he thought this year’s Del Norte contingent won even more matches than last year, which sent 17 wrestlers to Fresno with 12 placers.
“It was a really good group of kids this year,” Schaad said. “A lot of them were returning to state, so they kind of get more comfortable with it. That makes it more fun for everybody because they aren’t as nervous, they aren’t too anxious, they can have more fun and kind of roll with it. Even the kids who were going down for the first time had a good time because they have other kids that have gone before. They have someone to rely on, talk to and lean on.”
David Burshem (bantam, 43) and Curtis Bartley (novice, 92) both finished fifth in their brackets, while Chulh’Ts’a’s-Ne “Smiley” Bates came in sixth in the intermediate 63 pound bracket.
Other Del Norte Youth Wrestlers that made the trip to Fresno were Jaxon Johnson, Kaiden Blake, Braydan Johnson, Colton Schaad, Ka-Get Dowd and Eric Stansbury.
Although the official end to the Del Norte Youth Wrestling season is May, the Warriors coaches continue to work with kids interested in competing at the CAUSA tournament every year for the past four years.
That allows some of the top wrestlers in the youth program to get a little bit more one-one-one time with their coaches.
“We were working with a smaller group of about 16-18 kids so we were able to give them more attention with a better coach to wrestler ratio,” Schaad said. “We just worked on the same things we had been working on at a little faster pace.”