The Del Norte boys wrestling team opened up their 2019 dual season with a relatively easy win over McKinleyville. The Warriors came to Thunen Gym with a full squad of 14 wrestlers ready to go, but the Panthers only had half a squad with seven wrestlers. That made the overall outcome of the dual all but certain before wrestling even began.

The Warriors were fairly dominant in the seven matches wrestled as well, however, picking up four wins by pin, a win by injury default, and a win be decision for a lopsided 75-6 victory over the Panthers.

“It was a good showing for us,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad. “We wrestled well in some matches, but in some matches I felt we under preformed. Overall it was a really good performance though. A lot of the guys were working really hard.”

Although the dual started at the 195 pound weightclass, Del Norte’s David Hall picked up the first pin of the day wrestling against McKinleyville’s Isaac Weaver in the 106 pound match.

“David Hall, at 106, lost to that wrestler early in the year, and he pinned him tonight,” Schaad said. “So that is a good improvement head to head.”

Hall’s pin gave the Warriors an 18-6 lead, which quickly mushroomed into a 42-6 advantage as Del Norte won the next four matches by forfeit. Skyler Moore then added to the big lead with a pin in 42 seconds in the 138 pound match.

After a couple more forfeits Tanner Stancliff took the mat against Malachi Stephens at 160 pounds. Stancliff missed the second day of the tournament in Anderson over the weekend due to a minor injury sustained during his last match on Friday, but looked to be back to full strength in the dual.

“We bumped Tanner up to 160 and he looked strong — he looked good,” Schaad said. “He had a solid take down, a solid turn, and ended up pinning him in 20 seconds. Tanner got a little bit banged up last Friday and missed the second day of the tournament just as a precaution. He got checked out though, was feeling good, and he looked good tonight. Hopefully we made the right call letting him rest on Saturday night.”

Justin Goudelock picked up the last pin of the night for Del Norte, wrestling against Raylee Blake at 170 pounds. Goudelock led for the entire match and managed to secure a late third-period pin in 5:34.

“He came through and won by fall and was winning the entire match,” Schaad said. “He didn’t quite have that speed or the agility that we are used to seeing from him though. We will talk to him and see how he is feeling. He might be starting to get a little sick.”

The last match of the night was also the most competitive, as Del Norte’s Braydon Henderson took on McKinleyville’s Michael Nelson, who was a runner up at the HDN Championships last year. Nelson managed to get an early take down in the match and held a one-point lead at the end of both the first and second periods.

Nelson chose to go on the bottom to start the third period, but Henderson never allowed him to get to his feet. Instead, the Warrior senior managed to flip Nelson onto his back with about 12 seconds remaining in the match. Although he wasn’t able to secure a pin, the three back points awarded to him at the final buzzer pushed him to a 6-4 win by decision.

“That was a nice matchup,” Schaad said. “We were down in the third period, but Braydon managed to come through at the end. He is a very diligent and hard working wrestler and he stays with the game plan.”

Del Norte also picked up six points in the 220 pound match where Poy Aguilar took on Seth Witwell. Unfortunately, Witwell went down with an injury in the first period and ended up having to pull out of the match.

Brandon Jones (195 pounds), Andre Aflague (113), Chaz Harrison (120), Blake Allen (126), Sherrick Cron (132), Nolan Ridgely (145), and Wyatt Schneck (152) all picked up forfeits in their respective weight classes in the dual.

McKinleyville’s Skyler Hicks picked up the only victory for the Panthers on Tuesday, picking up a first-period pin over Davian Afdahl in the 285 pound match.

“That was a tough match. Davian just turned the wrong way,” Schaad said. “Instead of turning to his left to escape he turned to his right, which exposed his body. He was really excited as a first year wrestler in his first dual meet. He will be just fine though.”

With the win, the Warriors are off to a 1-0 start as the team looks to defend its Humboldt-Del Norte League dual championship from last season.

“We like the dual meet season because it is fun to see teams one-on-one. It was a good start for both the boys and the girls,” Schaad said. “It is fun because we are on the road so much that the duals give the parents and fans a chance to come see us. Also for the athletes it breaks up their week of practice. It helps to work hard knowing that the next day you are wrestling live. It kind of breaks up the monotony of practice.”

Del Norte’s next dual is scheduled for Jan. 17 when the Warriors have a home date with Eureka and St. Bernard’s. But before returning to duals, Del Norte will be back to tournament wrestling over the weekend.

This week, the Warriors are planning on splitting their boys squad up, with their top five wrestlers headed to Sacramento for a big two-day tournament against some of the top wrestlers in Northern California.

Schaad said the team plans to enter Harrison (115), Moore (134), Schneck (140), Goudelock (162), and Henderson (184) into the Tim Brown Invitational, which starts on Friday.

The rest of the Warrior wrestlers will be heading to Rogue River High School for a one-day varsity tournament. Schaad said that although the tournament is for varsity wrestlers, the Warriors are planning to put all of their available grapplers into the brackets on Saturday.

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