The Del Norte wrestling program split in two this weekend with the top five boys heading to Sacramento for a two-day Tim Brown Invitational that is likely the toughest tournament any Warrior will attend during the regular season. The rest of the Warriors, boys and girls, headed to Oregon for the Rumble on the Rogue in Rogue River.

Although missing its top five wrestlers in Oregon, the Del Norte boys wrestling team still managed to put more than a full squad out on the mats and ran away with first place in the team standings with 235 team points — 80 points in front of Rogue River in second place. A total of 14 varsity teams were represented at the tournament.

“We had a really good team showing,” said Del Norte head coach Clinton Schaad. “We took a solid lineup, and they looked good. We had a big lead going into the last round, and we went four-for-six in the finals to finish strong.

“We took a lot of people over there, with 26 or 27, so that is quite a few wrestlers. It was a good chance for the guys who have been wrestling behind the five guys who went to Tim Brown to have their moment. It was a full blown varsity tournament. It wasn’t a JV tournament, so it was good to get them some matches. Everyone really came out and wrestled great.”

The Warrior girls were also back in action in Rogue River, although wrestling in a much smaller field of participants than their male counterparts. Schaad said there weren’t enough girls to put together full brackets in each weight class, so organizers grouped similarly-sized wrestlers together into round robin pools. Del Norte had five entered in the girls tournament, and all five Warriors finished the day on the podium.

“They didn’t keep a team score for the girls, but I’m sure that we would have won that too,” Schaad said. “We had a lot of placers — more than anybody else. The girls did great.

“It is good anytime these girls can compete. They are getting better. Every time I watch them wrestle it is more and more fun. They are getting more aggressive, and they are understanding how the sport works.”

Del Norte also had two girls who didn’t fit into any of the pools in Rogue River, and both decided to enter into the boys brackets instead.

Meanwhile, the Warriors had a total of 16 boys place in the top six in their respective brackets in Rogue River, with at least one Warrior placing in 13 of the 14 weight classes.

Nobody had a better day than Del Norte’s Cruz Cerros, who was one of four Warriors to take first place in their bracket. Cerros, wrestling in the 120 pound bracket, started the day off a little slow but managed to pull out a 9-5 win by decision. After that Cerros was dominant two straight pins to wrap up the day, including a pin in 30 seconds in the finals.

“The first match he won, but he wasn’t feeling good — he told me he ate too much before he wrestled,” Schaad said. “Then he turned it on and looked great all day. He won the most outstanding wrestler award in the lower weights, which is great because that is voted on by all of the coaches. He had a really good day.”

Nolan Ridgely was similarly dominant in the 145 pound bracket, where he pinned his way to a 4-0 record and a first place finish.

“Nolan has been on fire lately,” Schaad said. “He has been wrestling fantastically, and he ran right through that tournament. He has been wrestling really well. He might make a mistake now and then that costs him a match, but he has been wrestling well all season.”

Tanner Stancliff also went undefeated in Rogue River, going 4-0 with a pair of pins to win the 152 pound bracket.

“He had to injury default out of NorCals, and he ran into (Dylan Julian of Lakeview), who placed sixth over there,” Schaad said. “So we had a chance to see how he would have done if he would have competed, and he dominated the match.”

The Warriors’ final champion of the day was Jordan Woodley. Although the junior didn’t record any pins while going 3-0 for the day at 170 pounds, he also was never really in danger of losing.

“He has been in our varsity lineup all year, and he was in control of every match that he wrestled,” Schaad said. “He didn’t walk through the tournament — that isn’t the right term — but he was in the lead in every single match. He never got behind and wrestled fine the whole time.”

Although Del Norte’s David Hall ended up finishing in second place in the 106 pound bracket, it was the best finish so far this season for the Warrior junior.

“He didn’t look bad in the finals; he just got a little bit out-moved,” Schaad said. “Part of it is that he was excited to be there. It was his first time in the finals, and he was really excited about that and had a great day.”

Kurtis Turner also managed to make it into the finals, wrestling in the 160 pound bracket.

“He ran into a pretty solid wrestler out of Riddle and didn’t win that match, but making it into the finals was really good for him,” Schaad said.

Sherrik Cron was knocked out of the championship bracket in the semifinals, but ended up going 3-1 for the day with three wins by pin to take third place overall.

Blake Allen made his return to the lineup for the first time since the first tournament of the year after missing several tournaments due to illness. Allen lost his first match of the day but bounced back and won out from there on his way to a third place finish.

“He has been practicing, but he hasn’t been able to get out on the mat for about a month and a half,” Schaad said. “Him getting back into the lineup is what we needed.”

The Del Norte boys had eight more wrestlers finish in the top six of their respective brackets.

Andre Aflague took fourth place at 113 pounds while Michael Weiland finished fourth at 160.

“(Weiland) is pretty green — a rookie to the sport — and he came out late because football went long this year,” Schaad said. “So he wrestled the Grants Pass JV tournament and has been off the mat until now. He went 2-2 and looked like he finally found his knack. He is a strong kid.He flowed his hips well, and he looked good.”

Fifth place finishers for Del Norte included Joe Campbell (132), Seth Gorbet (152), Brandon Jones (195) and Davien Afdahl (285).

Del Norte also had a pair of sixth place finishers in Daniel Armendariz (138) and Poy Aguilar (220), but both wrestlers ended their day with some hard luck.

Armendariz started his day off with a pin but got banged up during his semifinal match — which he lost by fall — and ended up injury defaulting out of his last two matches.

Aguilar ended up losing his first match of the day in overtime against the wrestler who ended up winning the 220 pound bracket. Aguilar bounced back for a win by fall in his next match and was leading his match in the consolation semifinals before being injured and injury defaulting his way to sixth.

The Del Norte girls team was led by Emily Ricks, who took first place in Pool A, the lightest pool in Rogue River. Ricks edged out teammate Jenny Schaad, who finished as the runner up, to win the pool.

“She not only won her first match of the year, she also won her first tournament of the year,” Schaad said. “Ricks took first in pool A, and Jenny Schaad was second in that group. They both wrestled really well, but they had to wrestle each other, which was unfortunate. They are different weight classes, but up there they got grouped together. Emily had a lot of fun; Jenny had fun too, and they both worked hard.”

Del Norte’s Claire Taylor wrestled well in Pool B, picking up a pair of pins on her way to a second place finish.

Autumn Turner and Hailey Stover finished second and third respectively in Pool C.

“They are in two different weight classes, and they were put into a bracket with a really good wrestler from McKinleyville,” Schaad said. “Autumn finished second and Hailey finished third, but they went out there and wrestled hard, did their best, and made the podium.”

Although all five of the Warriors wrestling in the girls brackets made the podium, Del Norte actually brought seven girls in all to Rogue River.

Ashley Turner (182) and Danika Scott (220) didn’t have any female opponents in their respective weight classes, so each of the Warriors elected to jump into the boys brackets instead.

“There weren’t any girls at 182, so Ashley, by her own choice, decided to wrestle the guys. She had a really tough draw,” Schaad said. “She ran into a big strong kid in her first match, then her second match was against the kid who took Braydon Henderson to the very end in our dual last week. She did great. We are really proud of her, but she just had a tough draw.”

Turner ended up 0-2 for the day, losing to the wrestlers who ended up in fourth and fifth place overall.

Scott had similarly poor luck in the 220 pound bracket, finishing 0-2 for the day against the third place finisher and the wrestler that had to injury default into fourth place.

“She had a tough draw too, but she did well,” Schaad said. “Both her and Ashley have a lot of confidence. It was good for them to make the weights and to stick in there and wrestle.”

Tim Brown Invitational

Del Norte sent its top five boys down to Sacramento on Friday for the Tim Brown Invitational, which is the most challenging tournament of the regular season for the Warriors. Three Del Norte wrestlers survived the first day on Friday, and Skyler Moore fought his way onto the podium on Saturday with a fifth place finish.

Despite sending just five wrestlers to compete, Del Norte managed to put up 43.5 team points to finish near the middle of the pack in 40th place out of 85 teams in attendance.

“We weren’t going down there looking at team points anyway. We were chasing tough matches because that is what we need to get. But finishing in 40th place out of 85 teams is pretty good,” said Del Norte assistant coach Nick Watson, who made the trip down to Sacramento with the Warriors. “I think we are definitely making a good push now. We will taper off a little bit this week, then crank it up from there and hopefully be ready for the postseason.”

Moore started the day on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 135 pound championship bracket, where he picked up a pin to secure a spot on the podium.

In the semifinals Moore ran into eventual tournament champion Cory Sego of Spanish Springs from Reno, Nevada. Moore gave Sego his closest match of the entire tournament before falling by a 4-3 decision.

“The first period was like a big scramble, and no points were scored,” Watson said. “It was just going back and forth. He actually ended up beating the kid from Elk Grove 5-1 in the finals.”

Moore also lost his first match of the consolation bracket, when he got caught on his back by last year’s Northern Section Champion for a pin, but he bounced back for a tough win in the fifth place match.

Moore was matched up against Liberty’s Cade Ignatoy-Martinez, a highly ranked wrestler in the North Coast Section, in the battle for fifth place that Watson said could easily be a preview of a match in the medal rounds of the NCS Tournament next month.

“We were down 5-4, so we had to cut him and give him a point,” Watson said. “So it was 6-4 and Skyler took him down with about 20 seconds left to put it into overtime. About 30 seconds into overtime he got another takedown to get the win. That was a big win because it is going to help Skyler when it comes time for seeding at the North Coast Section.”

Chaz Harrison also started his day in the quarterfinals of the 116 pound bracket but couldn’t pick up a win to make the podium. Harrison fell behind early against a wrestler from Spanish Springs, who went on to take third place overall, but almost managed to steal a win.

“Chaz battled back in the third round and got the kid on his back,” Schaad said. “As time was running out the ref was counting near-fall and looking for the fall. He just ran out of time.”

In the first round of the consolation bracket Harrison ended up losing by fall to the grappler who ended up in eighth place overall.

Braydon Henderson also made an appearance in Sacramento on Saturday. The Warrior 185-pounder started his day in the consolation bracket after picking up a loss on Friday and was eliminated after a close 4-2 match on Saturday.

Del Norte will be back in action with another dual meet on Thursday, when Eureka comes to Crescent City for the Warriors’ last home dual of the year.

The Del Norte girls will get the night started against a Logger team that is the largest girls squad in the HDN and favorites to take home the girls league championship. Following the girls dual, the Del Norte boys will take the mat against the Loggers.

“I’m expecting a full lineup out of Eureka,” Schaad said. “It is going to be close. We will wrestle more matches (than against McKinleyville), and they have some kids that can wrestle. We will try to put our best foot forward and get some W’s in there.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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