The Del Norte boys and girls wrestling teams both picked up a lot of wins as the Warriors opened their 2018-19 season with their only home tournament of the season — the Battle at the Border.
Although the Warriors had several wrestlers on both the boys and the girls team sitting out of the opening tournament due to some illnesses and minor injuries, Del Norte managed to take second place as a team in both the boys and the girls tournaments.
“It was the first match of the year for all of them, so it is always exciting to get those out of the way,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad. “The new kids went out and worked really hard — we got to see some pluses and minuses there. The returning kids went out and wrestled pretty tough overall, but again there were some pluses and minuses with them as well. We knew that our cardiovascular shape isn’t where it needs to be yet, but it is early in the season. So we have time to fix that.”
The Del Norte boys team ended up finishing behind Grants Pass by 106 team points with a score of 159.5, but the Warriors were comfortably ahead of the Grants Pass JV and Fortuna, which finished in third and fourth place with 116 and 115 team points respectively.
The Warrior girls team was awarded third-place as a team, but tournament organizers later caught an error in scoring that would have leapfrogged Del Norte into a second place over Grants Pass. The Eureka girls team ended up winning the first ever girls team championship at the Battle at the Border.
The Warrior boys ended up crowning three individual champions and nabbed both the outstanding wrestler awards. The Del Norte girls also had one grappler go undefeated for the day to win her round-robin style bracket in the girls tournament.
After the tournament has been completed, coaches voted Del Norte junior Skyler Moore as the most outstanding wrestler in the lower weights. Senior Warrior Justin Goudelock was selected as the most outstanding upper weight.
“It has been a long time since we took both awards,” Schaad said. “Those are voted on by coaches, and they picked out two Del Norte kids overall. That is pretty exciting.”
Moore rolled through the 145 pound bracket to open the season with four wins in a row. Moore picked up pins in each of his matches, recording falls in 1:08, 19 seconds, 51 seconds, and 5:05.
“Skyler is a returning league champion and a returning section placer, so we have high expectations for him,” Moore said. “In the first tournament of the year he went 4-0, won all of his matches by pin and was named the most outstanding lower weight wrestler. So he had a really good day.”
Goudelock started his day with a couple quick pins, but his conditioning was put to the test with a 15-10 win in the semifinals before upsetting the bracket’s top-seeded wrestler with a 13-1 major decision in the finals.
“He didn’t pin his way through, but he did wrestle well,” Schaad said. “He won the championship match 13-1 against the No. 1 seeded wrestler from Arcata (Justin Spaulding). That was a pretty dominant finals finish, which is probably why he got the votes for outstanding upper weight. He really wrestled under control in the finals and was in control of the match the whole time. He didn’t put himself in a lot of bad positions and he wrestled smart. He hasn’t been on the mat very much yet this year, but he was able to wrestle to his strengths.”
Goudelock said he just joined up with the wrestling team early this week after playing football through the fall.
“I just started practicing last Monday, so I was a little bit out of shape,” Goudelock said. “Luckily my first two matches went pretty quickly, but my third match went into overtime, so that was tough. The finals match was pretty tough too, but I was able to fight through it.”
Goudelock said he was confident coming into the tournament, despite not being the highest seeded wrestler in his bracket.
“It felt good. It is my senior year, and it’s our home tournament, so I definitely wanted to win it,” Goudelock said. “It will help with getting good seeds from now on. In McKinleyville I should get a pretty good seed, so winning this tournament should help.”
The Del Norte boys team also had junior Blake Allen finish with an individual title after an impressive day overall. Allen was the top seeded wrestler in the 120 pound bracket and showed why, going 3-0 with pins in 33 seconds, 3:21 and 3:59.
“Blake had a really good day. He wrestled really well,” Schaad said. “Any time you can pin through the tournament it is really exciting. Blake is a returning league champion and is a junior this year, so we are hoping for and expecting big things out of him. He started off undefeated with all falls, so that is a good start to the season for him.”
The girls tournament ended up being a little bit smaller overall than organizers initially thought.
“We didn’t have quite as many girls as we were hoping for, but we still had quite a few,” Schaad said. “Grants Pass wasn’t able to bring over as many girls as they had hoped.”
Rather than running full brackets with strict weights, each of the girls was put into a grouping of four or five similarly-sized wrestlers and competed in a round robin style competition.
The Del Norte wrestling team was led by sophomore Leila Moore. Moore said she wrestled freestyle with the Del Norte Youth Wrestling Program as an eighth grader, but Saturday was her first folkstyle wrestling experience, and her first time wrestling in high school.
“This is my first win ever, and the first time I got first place — and it came at my own home tournament,” Moore said. “I am just really happy. I did not expect to win any. When I won my last match I was just really really happy. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone was screaming for me. It was probably the best feeling in the world.”
Although Leila was the only Warrior girl to go undefeated for the day, six of the seven Del Norte girls that were able to compete on opening weekend picked up at least one win at the Battle at the Border.
“I thought the female wrestlers did really well. For a lot of them it is a completely foreign thing — they have been to practice but never a live tournament,” Schaad said. “They came out in the first round and only got a couple wins. I feel like they were almost deer in the headlights. There was a little bit of shock. They went through the first round and the coaches talked to them a little bit, reassured them of their abilities and reminded them what we are looking for. The second round was a mixed bag, some won and some lost, but I think they wrestled a little bit better. In the third round they seemed to be really comfortable with what was happening, and I think they won most of their matches in the third round.”
Del Norte’s lone female wrestler with high school experience, Autumn Turner, ended up taking second place in her bracket while going 2-1 overall. Danika Scott also finished as the runner up in her bracket with a 3-1 overall record.
Jenny Schaad, Claire Taylor, and Autumn Turner all finished in 3rd place after going 1-2 for the day.
The Del Norte boys team didn’t ended up with any runners up at the Battle at the Border, but six Warriors finished in third or fourth place.
Wyatt Schneck went 4-1 to take third place in the 138 pound bracket, while Tanner Stancliff went 3-1 in the 160 bracket for third. Del Norte’s Jordan Woodley didn’t end up wrestling his third place match at 195 pounds against Fortuna’s Jace Garcia, so they both finished tied for third place.
David Hall (106 pounds), Joshua Yang (113) and Chaz Harrison (120) all finished in fourth place on Saturday.
Overall, Schaad thought it was a strong start to the season for the boys.
“We are doing alright. We still have a lot of kids bunched up in weight classes,” Schaad said. “We didn’t have a 152 pounder, but we had three 145 pounders. We also had three wrestling in the 195 weight class, and those three will spread out into three different weight classes by the end of the season. So we were just kind of bunched up. This tournament wasn’t really about finding your final weight class or your final spot; it was just about getting out on the mat and getting the season up and running. I thought the boys wrestled really well overall.”
Schaad said that wrestlers’ weights are still not really on coaches’ minds yet this early in the season, but getting into shape seems like it will be one of the team’s top priorities in practice over the next couple weeks.
“There is always room to improve,” Schaad said. “There were some things I saw as far as lungs, and we will fix that. We also had some technique issues, but we can fix that too — that is why we have practice. Everyone agreed with me as we were cleaning up after the tournament that our lungs need to be in better shape. So we should get the buy in and we can start turning up the heat in the room as far as working harder. Now everybody knows where we are at, and why we do what we do.”