Pirate wrestlers grapple with a late start

All things considered, a 31-44 Pirate wrestling loss to Ignacio in the opening dual meet of the season Dec. 5 was not discouraging.

The team is behind in the process of getting into competitive shape, since Pagosa’s football fortunes took many of the wrestlers into the post-season, eating up time that would otherwise have been spent in the wrestling room.

Several factors worked against success for Pagosa.

One of the team’s veteran athletes, senior Mike Smith, was out of the lineup after injuring an ankle prior to the meet.

Several varsity newcomers, while fighting well, learned some rookie lessons ... the hard way.

And Ignacio continues to put a good team on the mats.

Five Pirates won their matches against Bobcat opponents, three of them earning max points with falls.

Waylon Lucero got a fall at 152 pounds over Sonny Sanchez. Lucero did it in emphatic fashion, putting Sanchez’s shoulders down just 29 seconds into the match.

Dakota Miller started his season at 125 and started it with a fall. He pinned Jeffrey Herrera to signal his sophomore season begins with momentum lost last year when he was hampered at schedule’s end by illness.

Senior Joe DuCharme will battle at 160 this year as he attempts to return to the state tourney and better his third-place finish there last year. Last week, DuCharme gave up a bit of weight, fighting at 215. Little did it matter; DuCharme got the points with a pin of Abel Velasquez at 1 minute, 31 seconds.

Clinton Manzanares put points on the Pirate side of the scoreboard with a victory at 189. Manzanares scored an 8-2 decision.

Senior Steven Smith took on Ignacio’s Casey Haga at 119. Haga finished second in the state last year. And he finished second in Pagosa last week, as Smith came out aggressive, built a substantial lead and managed the 15-7 major decision over the Bobcat.

“I think the fact our training season was delayed for a lot of our guys was the major factor in the meet,” said Pirate Coach Dan Janowksy. “But, I don’t want to take anything away from Ignacio; they have a nice, young team, and they are going to be good this year.

“But, the meet was in our hands, and we lost it. I looked at our scorebook and I saw we had twenty-two takedowns to their eleven. From a technical standpoint, especially when we were fighting on our feet, we looked pretty good.”

With the additional conditioning provided by the meet and four more days of training, the team is likely to look even better at the Buena Vista Tournament Saturday.

The tournament is dual format, which means Pagosa will wrestle five duals. Other teams at Buena Vista besides the hosts and the Pirates will be Battle Mountain Centauri, Florence, Glenwood Springs, Platte Canyon and Salida.

One of the advantages of the Pirates’ participation in the Buena Vista event is the chance to see two of the teams favored to contend with Pagosa for the regional and, perhaps state titles: Centauri and Florence.

“It’s a good chance to measure ourselves; I think we’ll do better this week,” said the coach.

The action at Buena Vista is the next to last competition of the pre-holiday season. The Pirates wrap up the pre-Christmas schedule at the Warrior Classic at Grand Junction Dec. 19-20.

SUN photo/Karl Isberg
Joe DuCharme puts Abel Velasquez’s shoulders down for the fall during 215-pound action at a Dec. 5 dual meet pitting the host Pirates against the Ignacio Bobcats. DuCharme, slated for action at 160 this season, had little trouble with Velasquez, normally Ignacio’s 189-pounder. The Pirates are rounding into competitive shape as they travel to Buena Vista for a dual meet tournament this weekend.