Del Norte junior Danika Scott wrapped up her first ever season of wrestling on Saturday at the California Interscholastic Federation Girls Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield.
Although Scott went 0-2 at the state tournament, the Warrior standout wrestled hard and gained some valuable experience at the most prestigious tournament so far in her career.
“I think she went in a little apprehensive,” said Del Norte girls coach Heath Schaad. “It is a big tournament with a lot of prestige and all that. She wasn’t afraid, but she was really nervous.”
Scott had a tough draw right off the bat, getting matched up with No. 3 seed Sierra Adams-Gregory of Lakewood, who went on to place fourth in Bakersfield.
“It was a tough draw, but Danika went at her,” Schaad said. “(Danika) tried to throw her and the girl countered — she was No. 3 for a reason. She was able to counter Danika and took her to the ground.”
Schaad said Scott injured her ankle a little during her opening match, but she was able to come back the next day and wrestle in the consolation bracket.
On Saturday Scott wrestled Lima Sadozai of Monterrey in a close match that went the full three rounds. Scott found herself trailing 4-3 while on top late in the third period.
“We tried a couple different ways to turn (Sadozai), but we just couldn’t get her turned. So she let her up, giving her another point to try to get a take down,” Schaad said. “There was only eight seconds left though, so the other girl just stayed away and didn’t go near Danika. If she had gone in there Danika may have been able to take her down.”
Although Scott wasn’t able to get a win at state, Schaad was proud of how she wrestled, and said the experience gained will likely benefit her in the future.
“It was a good experience. Danika most likely will be able to come back next year and hopefully we will have a couple from the guys side and a few more from the girls,” Schaad said. “So she will go back with more experience, more knowledge, and hopefully we can get a different outcome next time.
“If anybody else can go with her, she can have that experience to tell the kids what happens and how it works. So she can be a calming influence on the rest of the kids for next year.”
Schaad said he also believes that the State Tournament experience will provide a nice confidence boost for Scott as she heads into her second season of wrestling.
“I think that she learned that she is good enough to compete with the rest of these girls,” Schaad said. “For your first year out you always have that self-doubt that comes along with it. Going into it, you could just tell by her demeanor that she was really anxious about it, but at the same time she wasn’t afraid and she didn’t back down at least.”
Although still in her first year as a wrestler, Schaad noted that Scott’s pervious experience in Ju Jitsu had instilled some of the instincts needed for wrestling in the junior. As Scott became more confident in her abilities throughout the season her performance has quickly improved.
“She came in very willing to learn — wanting to pay attention and listen to what we have to say. Her biggest growth has been in her self confidence,” Schaad said. “In her first match in the first tournament in Del Norte she got pinned by the girl from Eureka in her very first match. At that point she was talking with me and she was not wanting to come back. The practices were hard and there was basically a lot of self doubt that she wouldn’t be able to cut it. She came back in and really pushed and she has completely changed her outlook.”
Scott came back and took first place in the girls tournament at the Grants Pass Winter Kickoff, but Schaad said it was a couple weeks later in Liberty when she really turned a corner.
“Eventually she realized that she is as good as everybody else,” Schaad said. “I think it really hit in Liberty when she went and ended up placing. I think she realized that she is as good as everybody and she can beat them. It showed in her wrestling. For the rest of the season she was going out there to win.”
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