The Del Norte boys team had 11 wrestlers in action in the varsity bracket for the first day of the two-day Grants Pass Winter Kickoff on Friday with six surviving until Saturday. The Warriors had the rest of their available male grapplers competing in a junior varsity tournament that is actually much larger in terms of participation than the varsity brackets.

“Our last round of the day was pretty rough, so we are a little frustrated right now. Last year the last round went really good, so it was pretty exciting,” said head coach Clinton Schaad. “We are kind of getting ourselves into some funny positions and getting caught to our back. But that is kind of the name of the game. I think today we are just wrestling hard and wrestling with a lot of heart and determination. But we are making some small, little mistakes that the more experienced kids are capitalizing on. We will take those losses and we will improve on them.”

The Warrior girls wrestling team will also be competing at the Grants Pass Winter Kickoff, but the girls tournament is a one-day affair, starting today. Clinton Schaad said he expects to have eight girls in action for the Warriors in Grants Pass.

Of the six Warrior boys still alive in the varsity brackets, two went undefeated on the first day of competition and are still in the hunt four a tournament championship.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, both of their remaining wrestlers are entered into the same weight bracket, meaning Del Norte can finish with no more than one tournament champion.

Still, senior Wyatt Schneck and junior Skyler Moore have the potential to meet in an all-Del Norte 138-pound finals match if the duo can beat their semifinal opponents at the beginning of day two, today.

Moore received a bye through the first round of the tournament but was dominant in his two matches wrestled with pins in 32 seconds and 2:42 to earn his spot in the semifinals.

Schneck wrestled three matches on the first day of the competition and was similarly impressive, winning by fall in 2:19, 1:42 and 3:27.

“We were able to put them both in the same bracket so we didn’t have to bump one out of their weight class, and they both actually wrestled very well today. They were both unseeded, so they were just thrown into the bracket. Wyatt beat the No. 4 and 5 seeds, and then Skyler beat the No. 3 and No. 6 seed. In their last matches of the day Wyatt pinned a kid who was sixth in the state in his division in Oregon last year, and Skyler pinned a kid that was 5th in Oregon in his division.

“So they both are wrestling very well right now. They have very tough opponents tomorrow morning, but hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”

Del Norte had three other wrestlers reach the quarterfinals in Grants Pass in Chaz Harrison (120 pounds), Justin Goudelock (170), and Braydon Henderson (195). All three wrestlers received first round byes in their respective brackets before winning their first match of the day.

Harrison lost a close 8-5 decision in the quarterfinals against a wrestler from Grants Pass who had beaten Harrison in the Battle at the Border tournament in Cresent City two weeks prior.

“It was closer than the score,” Schaad said. “There were some takedowns that we thought we had but the ref didn’t give them to us. Not making any excuses, because though things happen, but it was a three-point match that could have very easily gone Chaz’s way. Outside of that he wrestled pretty well today.”

Goudelock was knocked out of the championship bracket after a close 6-5 decision in the quarterfinals.

“He was wrestling a tough kid and we were right there,” Schaad said. “One more takedown or one little thing. He was in on some good shots that we just couldn’t capitalize on. But Justin is still upbeat and ready to go on to the consolation and try to make the podium.”

Henderson picked up a pin in his first match of the day and looked poised to grab a spot in the semifinals late in a close match Friday night before a late mistake eliminated him from the championship bracket.

“He was winning 6-5 deep into the third period,” Schaad said. “All we had to do was not make a mistake and not do something silly and he got off balance and the kid from South Medford put him to his back and pinned him.”

Harrison, Goudelock and Henderson will be back in action in the consolation bracket today, where they can finish as high as third.

Cruz Cerros will also be back in action today wrestling in the consolation bracket. Cerros also had a bye in the first round before wrestling what turned out to be his only match of the day.

“He was up 8-3 and had the kid on his back but he made a mistake and was taken to his back and got pinned after leading the entire match,” Schaad said. “He wrestled really well and then made one little mistake. That is part of the game though. We want to make our mistakes now so we can fix them for later in the year.”

In a sparsely populated 126 pound bracket, Cerros received a pair of byes in what would have been two matches.

Nolan Ridgely (145), Tanner Stancliff (152) and Jordan Woodley (182) all went 1-2 on Friday while Sherrick Cron (132) and Kurtis Turner (160) finished 0-2 in the varsity bracket.

Schaad said both Cron and Turner will be able to compete in a new bracket today, comprised of wrestlers that went winless on Friday.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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