Windsor High’s wrestlers knew they were in the match of their season with powerful Ukiah waiting in the division 2 championships of the North Coast Section dual meet Saturday.
“Ukiah has a great team. They’re really tough and well-coached,” said Windsor coach Rich Carnation. “They beat us in league.”
Ukiah registered a pin to open the title match, but Windsor wound up rallying to win the division title 38-29 in its home gym. In the Division 3 championship, Healdsburg defeated Willits 56-16.
Jaguars star Dominic DuCharme won by pin to ice Windsor’s title. He overcame a difficult test from Ukiah’s Cody Shepared with the 6-0 victory.
“I’ve coached for 24 years,” Carnation said. “If you told me I could only pick one guy to wrestle a must-win, final match — Dominic is one of the first guys I’d choose. Nobody in the area consistently matches his ability to be aggressive and wrestle technically well under pressure.”
Ukiah’s coach Thomas Fragoza came away pleased with his team’s effort, if not the outcome.
“After beating them in our league dual, we knew we are as good as they are. Overall, I think Windsor wrestled really well,” Fragoza said. “I’m proud of how we wrestled. I feel good about our team moving on.”
Manny Martinez pinned Windsor standout Joe Valdez in the first round to get Ukiah off and running. Windsor’s Anthony Spallino pinned his foe next.
Windsor got a pin from Perez Perez at 147 pounds to spur the comeback. Luke Au-Yeung rolled to a 19-4 decision at 140 pounds as the Jaguars finally took the lead.
Windsor’s Carnation insisted that his relatively youthful club was inspired by the Ukiah Daily Journal chronicling the Jags’ earlier dual-meet loss to Ukiah.
“The writer wrote that our young guys were ‘better cheerleaders than wrestlers,’” he said, showing the story he’d called up online on his cellphone. “It said we were ‘sketchy.’ It fired our young kids up. I read it to the kids again right before the championship match.”
Carnation explained how the match went versus how he’d expected it to go.
“We wound where I expected we’d be,” he said. “The route we took to get there was just different than I expected.”
Ukiah delivered a gut punch in building a solid early lead.
“Ukiah did a great job. They knocked us on our heels,” he said. “One of their pins came in a weight class we count on for a win. But their kid did a great job.”
Dakota Perez earned an impressive win at 115 pounds for Ukiah.
Coach Scott Weidermeier was all smiles after Healdsburg won the Division 3 title.
“The kids came out with intensity, toughness and focus that we want,” he said. “They just did a great job today.”
Anthony Merlo (184), Sam Williams (138) and Dominic Montanez (122) won by pin for Healdsburg. Upper Lake got a pin from Anthony Martin (147).
Willits coach Brian Bowles saw the second-place finish as a sign of great things to come.
“Even in a loss to Healdsburg, I am proud of our team,” he said. “We have two first-year wrestlers in our varsity lineup. It’s just brutal for new wrestlers to be under this pressure, but they handled it. I feel good about our program.”