The Del Norte girls wrestling team put together one of its best performances of the season on Saturday in Windsor at the Goddess of the Vine Tournament. The Warriors took seven wrestlers south, and all seven won at least one match to finish in the top seven, including six top five placers.
That helped to propel Del Norte to fifth place in the team standings out of the 18 teams that attended the tournament.
“We wrestled amazing this weekend. It was the best that we have wrestled so far this year,” said Del Norte girls coach Heath Schaad. “Everybody was on point, everybody was helping everybody else, we were all together as a team and everything was clicking. There were some matches that we could have won with some small details, but overall when they needed the win they got the win. I can’t be any happier.”
After the Warriors were finished wrestling for the day they got even more good news as Del Norte was awarded the sportsmanship award.
“We don’t know how that is decided, so that was a heck of a surprise for us to see that,” Schaad said. “There were 18 teams there overall, so to get that award shows the characteristics and the character of these girls. We instill in them that we don’t throw fits, we don’t talk to refs, we don’t yell at the coaching staff. We tell them that but when you go to these tournaments you see all of these issues and our girls don’t do that.
“They are willing to help out, not just our team but other teams. Ashley (Turner) helped out one of the heavyweights from Eureka when there were two girls from Eureka wrestling for fifth and six.”
Danika Scott and Autumn Turner both wrestled their way into the finals before finishing as the runner-up in their respective brackets.
Scott picked up a pair of wins by fall before taking on one of the top 235-pound wrestlers in the country in the finals.
“Danika ran into a train,” Schaad said. “That girl is ranked ninth in the nation. She is tough. But Danika went out there and almost threw her to her back at one point. She wrestled hard.”
Autumn Turner wrestled in the 160 pound weight class. After receiving a first round bye, Turner picked up a pin to reach the finals before finishing 1-1 overall for the day.
Hailey Stover wrestled her way to fourth place overall in the 143 pound bracket, going 2-2 for the day. Schaad said her last match of the day went right down to the wire.
“It was close. It was coming down to the end, and we were trailing by one,” Schaad said. “At the end of the match it was either we go after it and have a chance to win or you don’t and we lose anyway. She ended up losing and was upset, but I told her that she has only been wrestling for 13 weeks. ‘That girl has been wrestling for years. I know her, and you put her through her paces. Look how far you have come.’
“For her everything clicked in Liberty, and she has been improving the entire time.”
Jenny Schaad also finished in fourth place in the 116 bracket. Schaad started the day with a loss to the wrestler that ended up in third place but bounced back with a pair of pins to set up a rematch for third, but ended up finishing 2-2 for the day.
Claire Taylor (131 pounds) and Ashley Turner (160) also both finished 2-2 for the day, but both Warriors taking fifth place in their respective brackets. Schaad said both Taylor and Turner’s wins in the fifth-sixth place match at the end of the day turned out to be huge for Del Norte and likely is what pushed them past the sixth place team in the standings.
Emily Ricks battled through some injuries to take seventh place in the 126 pound bracket, finishing 1-2 for the tournament.
“They wrestled hard, even when they didn’t win,” Schaad said. “They turned a lot of heads. I had a lot of other coaches and parents come up to me and ask where we are from and tell us they were impressed with our team. That shows how much work the girls are putting in.”
Schaad thought the Warrior girls looked better than they have all season on Saturday, and that bodes well for the postseason, which will be kicking off for the Del Norte girls in two weeks at the Humboldt-Del Norte League Championships.
“We are peaking now. Coming to the top of our game, and it is absolutely the right time for it as we are coming into the HDNs,” Schaad said. “We are just going to be drilling the basics — no new moves for the next couple weeks. We just want to perfect what we have now so it can all come through at the HDN. I think we have a great opportunity to get a few White Stars, and I believe everyone can finish in the top three in their weight class. It all comes down to where we are at that day — one error can make a difference obviously.”
Although the Goddess of the Vine was the Warriors’ last tournament of the regular season, Del Norte will officially wrap up its regular season tonight with a dual against Arcata.
While Del Norte rolled to wins over McKinleyville and Fortuna, while losing handily against Eureka, Schaad said he expects the dual with the Tigers to be a tight battle for second place in the league.
“Arcata has some tough wrestlers. They are more of a middle group without any big or small wrestlers,” Schaad said. “If we go in there firing on all of our cylinders there are going to be some tough matches. This dual meet could go either way. We need to be ready to go and be at the top of our game. It is going to be close. Looking at it I think it is going to come down to one match.”
Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
St. Bernard’s and Hoopa are also both scheduled to be in Arcata, but the Crusaders do not have any girls wrestling, and Hoopa has just one female wrestler.
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