The Del Norte boys wrestling team wrapped up their regular season tournament schedule on a high note on Saturday, finishing in third place overall in Ukiah at the Redwood Empire Tournament. The Warriors entered 11 wrestlers into the varsity brackets and came away with seven wrestlers placing in the top seven, including one individual champion and a pair of runner-up finishes.
“Getting third place down there is really good, I thought,” said Del Norte assistant coach Nick Watson. “Ukiah is always tough, and Sutter is one of the top schools in the North Section. Then we are always close to Fortuna, and there are a lot of other schools that wrestle down there all season.
“For some of the kids it was the first time that we have seen them, which just means that we are going to get our tougher matches elsewhere, which is good because you hate seeing the same people every weekend.”
Skyler Moore was not only Del Norte’s top wrestler, but also the most impressive wrestler in all of the lower weights. Moore was voted the most outstanding lower weight wrestler by the coaches in attendance after rolling to a first place finish in his first time wrestling in the 128 pound weight class this season.
Moore finished the day with a perfect 4-0 record, picking up wins by fall in each of his matches.
“The tournament director said he wrestled for a total of nine minutes with four falls,” Watson said. “That was really cool to see, I don’t think he was expecting it. He showed that he is in the spot where he should be, and hopefully he just builds on that because now we are in the postseason after (tonight).”
Watson said Moore’s performance over the weekend will likely continue to boost him when it comes time for the North Coast Section to seed its bracket.
“He should have a pretty good draw when it comes time for that,” he said.
Wyatt Schneck and Braydon Henderson also wrestled well in their respective weight classes, winning their first three matches to reach the finals before finishing in second place.
Schneck, wrestling in the 140 pound bracket, picked up three first period pins in his first three matches, including a win in the semifinals against a wrestler from Petaluma who Schneck had beaten once and lost to once previously this season.
“Wyatt went out and pinned him this time,” Watson said. “He wrestled a really solid match because that kid is tough. Getting the pin makes him 2-1 against him, so that will help tremendously when it comes time for seeding at sections.”
Schneck ended up getting pinned with nine seconds left in his finals match, but the score was still close, trailing 7-4 at the time.
“It was neck-and-neck all the way up until he got pinned,” Watson said. “When I talked to him he said he just got caught in an arm bar and was pinned. That kid from Ukiah is really tough. He was a section placer in the NCS two years ago, so Wyatt is right there.”
Henderson also wrestled his way into the finals in the 184 pound bracket. The Del Norte senior picked up a second period pin before pulling out close decisions in back-to-back matches for a spot in the finals. Henderson had a difficult matchup in the finals but wrestled hard in an 8-6 loss by decision.
“All last year that kid was in the top two or three in the section, and I believe he was a state qualifier last year,” Watson said. “Hendo wrestled really well against him and ended up losing 8-6. We are right there with that kid, which means he is getting there. Everyone seems to be making that climb at the right time, which is good to see.”
Jordan Woodley picked up a third place finish for the Warriors in the 170 bracket after going 4-1 for the day, including three wins by pin.
“He is starting to peak. It seems like he is starting to make a move, and it is the right time of year for that,” Watson said. “He isn’t quitting because he is tired — no one is anymore. We are all in pretty good shape, I think. Woodley’s technique is getting there, and he is really picking up on the little things that we are showing him.”
Justin Goudelock finished the tournament with a 3-2 overall record on his way to a fourth place finish. Goudelock started out with a comfortable 14-0 victory in his first match before running up against Fortuna’s Joey Pontes. Pontes beat Goudelock 3-1 in the dual between the Warriors and Huskies last week, but Goudelock turned the tables with a late takedown to give him a 5-4 win by decision.
Goudelock was knocked out of the championship bracket in his next match against the eventual tournament champion. Eventually he ran into Pontes in the third place match in what turned out to be another close match. This time Pontes got the better of Goudelock, winning a 6-4 decision to drop Goudelock into fourth.
That matchup between Goudelock and Pontes has been a close one and could be an important match in seperating Del Norte and Fortuna, not only in the HDN Championships in two weeks, but also at the NCS Duals next weekend.
“It is just one of those things where it will just go back and forth,” Watson said. “That could be the deciding factor when it comes to winning a dual or a league title, for him individually and for the team. That could be the turning point match. It is very likely that we will see Fortuna at the NCS duals this weekend. It will be interesting because I think Justin has his number — he just has to be solid in a few areas.”
Chaz Harrison started his day going 2-2 in his first four matches before matching up against Clausen of Arcata in the fifth place match. Harrison came through with a win by fall to secure fifth place.
“He ended up pinning the kid from Arcata, which is a good sign for our league,” Watson said.
Noah Ridgley had a tough start to the day, dropping a close 4-3 decision in his first match and being knocked out of the championship 147 pound bracket. Due to the way the tournament was set up, Ridgely couldn’t finish any better than seventh place after the loss, but that is exactly what he did. Ridgely bounced back to win four straight matches to finish 4-1 overall and take seventh place.
“His first match out was tough. It went back and forth. It is just one of those things where at this time of year when you get a lead you have to be able to hold on.”
Del Norte will officially wrap up the regular season today with its last duals of the season. The Warriors are scheduled to be in Arcata, starting at 6:30 p.m.
“I’m hoping that we can beat Arcata, so we don’t have to share a dual league title with anyone,” Watson said. “We were dual champions last year too. It just didn’t transfer over to the tournament side of things. Everyone just has to go out and wrestle solidly against them. They have a few tough kids, but if everyone goes out and wrestles solidly we should be alright.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .