Pirate wrestlers battle at Buena Vista, prepare for the Warrior

A fourth-place finish at last week’s Buena Vista Tournament put Pirate wrestlers one step closer to rounding their way into competitive shape, and set them up for a trip to the traditionally tough Warrior Classic this weekend in Grand Junction.

The experience at Buena Vista was, for the most part, a positive one, the team going 3-2 in the dual meet format.

The Pirates’ three wins came by big margins, over 3A and 4A teams. Pagosa defeated 4A Battle Mountain 72-12, beat 3A St. Mary’s 77-0 and 3A Salida 56-15. Pagosa dropped its dual to No. 1-ranked Florence 28-46 and tied the hosts 42-42, with Buena Vista awarded the 43-42 win on criteria — specifically, most first match points.

Silas Thompson got his first action of the year at 103 pounds. The Pirate freshman scored with a fall against Battle Mountain.

Steven Smith competed at 125 and was dominant throughout the tournament. The senior beat a Battle Mountain opponent with a fall at 1 minute 2 seconds, scored another fall (at 3:15) against Florence, got a fall at 1:30 against Salida, nailed a technical fall at 1:37 against St. Mary’s and scored his fourth fall in five matches at the 44-second mark against Buena Vista.

Dakota Miller got a win by fall against a St. Mary’s wrestler, at the 5:28 mark of a match at 130.

Senior Caleb Pringle got max points at 135, scoring a win by fall against Buena Vista, at 1:05.

Veteran Cole Mastin won the three matches he wrestled at 140, pinning each opponent: Battle Mountain (1:37), Florence (1:36) and Buena Vista (1:19).

Freshman Jeremy Smith continued to show great promise at 145. The Pirate won three matches during the day — all by fall: Battle Mountain (1:08), Salida (:42) and St. Mary’s (:39).

Garret Fitch pinned his 160-pound Buena Vista opponent 33 seconds into the match.

Senior Joe DuCharme got in four matches at the tournament and won them all. DuCharme pinned his man from Battle Mountain, at 171, took an 11-3 major decision from a Florence wrestler at 171, pinned a Salida opponent at 189 and a wrestler from Buena Vista at 171.

Mike Smith, still suffering from an ankle injury, returned to action at the tournament, refusing to let the injury negatively affect the two matches he wrestled during the day. Smith beat an 189-pound opponent from Buena Vista, pinning him at the 39-second mark. The Pirate then faced Salida’s Clint Myers, the sixth-place finisher in the state last year at 160. Smith emerged the winner with a 5-3 decision.

Clinton Manzanares pinned a St. Mary’s opponent at 215, getting the win at the 25-second mark.

“I thought our veterans wrestled pretty well most of the day,” said Pirate Coach Dan Janowsky. “At this point in the season, we have two teams — our seasoned veterans and our younger guys. Our young guys do real well at times and less well at other, as you would expect. I anticipated this early in the season. Our goal is to get some of these younger guys to step up to the next level before the season’s end.”

The Buena Vista tourney gave the Pirates a chance to measure themselves against 3A teams of lesser and similar ability — and they did well against those teams — and against a very good team: Florence. The Huskies moved to the top of the 3A rankings last week with a dual meet win over Centauri, which dropped from No. 1 to No. 2.

“Florence is tough,” said the coach, “but we’re not that far off. We need to get our lineup settled before we become a contender.. But, there were things I liked about our performance against Florence, in particular from our younger guys. We were behind in some matches, but we continued to work hard, continued to learn. At this point, falling behind a good wrestler shouldn’t mean anything. You need to keep working, keep taking your shots. This tournament was our first chance to get a really long look at our guys and get a clear idea which direction each needs to take.”

This weekend, the Warrior provides a different kind of opportunity. It remains a learning experience for the younger wrestlers but, since the Warrior is a regular format tournament (not a dual meet tournament like Buena Vista) individual wrestlers are more of a focus than the team.

“The Warrior gives our quality, experienced kids a chance to test themselves,” said Janowksy. “They aren’t tethered to the team and they have the chance to go as far as they can possibly go against some of the best competition available.”

Following the Warrior, the Pirates take a holiday break, returning to action in a dual at Durango Jan. 8, at the Rocky Mountain Duals, at home Jan. 9, and at the Rocky Mountain Invitational, in the PSHS gym Jan. 10.