In what was a historic weekend on any number of levels for any number of reasons, the Del Norte wrestling team, individually and collectively, made its presence known in a big way as the two-day North Coast Section championship tournament came to a close Saturday. The Warrior boys finished sixth overall with 114 team points, while the Warrior girls placed 10th overall with 85 team points.
The headline of the weekend came at Albany High School where Warrior senior Danika Scott opened eyes and left mouths wide open with her performance over a two-day period, culminating in a section championship and a berth in the California Interscholastic Federation State Championship Tournament to be held in Bakersfield the weekend of February 27-29.
Scott will be joined in Bakersfield by fellow senior Skyler Moore, who finished runner-up in his 145-pound bracket at the boys’ North Coast Section Championship Tournament held at James Logan High School in Union City.
The opening day of competition for Scott was rather pedestrian, as she advanced to the second round of competition via a bye and then made quick work of her McKinleyville High School opponent in her first on the mat match of the weekend.
However, it was on day two Saturday that the Warrior senior, who had come into the weekend with a 24-3 record as it was, put the North Coast Section member schools and those wrestlers representing those schools on notice.
The evening of dramatics started for Scott in the semifinals where the Warrior senior faced off against Tatianna Herrera of James Logan High School.
In a match that was even in every aspect from start to finish, with the match tied 3-3 and just 11 seconds remaining in regulation, Herrera seemed to have all of the momentum as it appeared she was about to score the decisive points of the match that would have sent Scott into the third-place match rather than the championship.
However, Herrera was called for an illegal locking hands hold in the final seconds that resulted in a point being awarded to Scott. That point turned into the match deciding tally, thus giving Scott a heart-palpitating, nerve-fraying 4-3 victory and a berth in the championship match.
As if that were not enough, Scott faced an even more daunting task in her quest for what would be a historic championship victory. Waiting for the Warrior senior in the championship match was Lily McCoy of Casa Grande High School, who was only the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state and the No. 3 ranked wrestler in the nation in the heavyweight bracket.
In an outcome that defied odds, and perhaps even logic, all Scott did was pin the highly-touted McCoy in a mere 90 seconds of the opening round to capture the first North Coast Section championship in the brief history of the Warrior girls’ wrestling program.
Although historic both individually for Scott and for the program as a whole, the Warrior senior was joined on the medal stand by two fellow classmates, and very nearly a third, as Emily Ricks placed seventh in the 128-pound bracket and Claire Taylor eighth in the 133-pound bracket. Arelli Proctor fell just short of an opportunity to wrestle for a medal in the 145-pound bracket.
Ricks split her first two matches before reeling off three consecutive victories via pin in the consolation bracket and capping off her two days of action with a fourth pin of the day in the seventh place match. In a virtual carbon copy of Ricks’ path to the medal stand, Taylor split her first two matches before turning things around with three straight pins to vault her into the seventh place match. It was there that Taylor fell via pin to finish eighth overall.
The Warrior boys, who had five wrestlers advance into the quarterfinals of the championship bracket after day one Friday and another, Keadon Henderson, remain in place contention on the consolation side of the bracket, Saturday proved to be both challenging and rewarding at the same time when all was said and done.
While Blake Allen (126 pounds), Nolan Ridgley (138 pounds) and Brandon Jones (195 pounds) saw their Saturday’s end earlier than they’d undoubtedly hoped after each suffered losses in their first two matches of Championship Saturday, Chaz Harrison (132 pounds), Skyler Moore (145 pounds) and Henderson (220 pounds) each looked to build on the momentum they had gathered the day before.
Moore, who came into the section tournament as the No. 3 seed in his bracket, picked up exactly where he had left off Friday, pinning his opponent in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Saturday and vaulting the senior into the championship match. It was in the championship match that his streak of pins, and victories, would come to an end, as Moore fell to Timothy Cowan of Livermore High School in the finals at 145 pounds.
Harrison began his Saturday with a victory by pin followed by a win by decision, putting him in position to wrestle for fifth place. Harrison capped off his weekend with his third victory of the day and fifth of the weekend, placing him fifth overall.
In the case of Henderson, the road to a fifth place finish in his 220-pound bracket was daunting to say the least. After going 2-1 on Saturday, Henderson began his second day of wrestling in the consolation bracket knowing it was win and advance or lose and the weekend would be over scenario right out of the chute. All Henderson did was pick up two consecutive wins to keep himself in contention for a medal and wind up his day with an opportunity to place fifth. Henderson did exactly that, eking out a 4-3 victory over his opponent from Willits High School in the fifth place match, putting him on the medal stand.