Pirate wrestlers capped off the pre-holiday schedule with a third-place finish at last weekend’s 12-team Piedra Vista Invitational in Farmington, N.M.
The Pirates, battling with a depleted roster, finished the tourney with 131 team points —two points behind San Juan, Utah. Bloomfield, N.M., won the event with 142 points.
Three Pirates made it to the tournament finals — Danny Shahan (130 pounds), Koby Close (145) and Waylon Lucero (160).
Lucero took the title at 160. The Pirate’s first victory, a 5-3 decision, came over Adam Schofield, of Piedra Vista. Lucero earned a trip to the finals by pinning Alex Arujo, of Bayfield, at 5 minutes, 20 seconds. In the final, Lucero beat Seth Boswell of Bloomfield, getting a 5-2 decision.
“Waylon had a career-best tournament,” said Coach Dan Janowsky. “He beat two state placers from New Mexico — guys who had beaten him previously, good strong guys. It was a nice win for Waylon. The sixties were a good weight and Waylon was unseeded; he beat the top three seeds to get first place.”
Shahan received a first-round bye on his way to second place at 130. In the second round of action, Shahan pinned a Bloomfield wrestler at 1:40. He lost to an opponent from St. Pius, 15-5, in his final match.
“Danny lost to the New Mexico state champ,” said Janowsky. “He fought off his back twice and was the aggressor on offense the second half of the match; he had the guy on the defensive. That’s how we want our guys to wrestle when things aren’t going well.”
Close also drew a first-round bye, then came back to pin an opponent from Bloomfield at 3:22. Close lost in the finals, pinned by a Bayfield wrestler.
“Koby got a good win in the semifinal,” said the coach. “That was a good sign“— that a freshman can step up and earn points for us.”
Four Pirates took third place at Piedra Vista.
Dalton Gregory was third at 112. Gregory got a 13-4 decision over Dan Herrick of Durango to start his tournament, then lost by a fall to Trujill Sandman, of Newcombe, N.M. Gregory battled back, pinning Josh Trujillo of Piedra Vista at 3:21, then capturing third with a 15-4 decision over Jacob Moulton, of St. Pius.
E.J. Romero got a first-round bye at 119, then lost when he was pinned by a Bloomfield wrestler. A 21-6 win over an opponent from Miyamura High School (Gallup, N.M.), put Romero into the fight for third place, which he won with a pin at 56 seconds over a wrestler from St. Pius.
Dakota Miller was third at 140. Miller lost his first match of the tournament 13-4 to Todd Rhode, of St. Pius, the New Mexico state runner-up last season. Miller rebounded immediately, pinning James Oulette of Durango at 56 seconds. Miller fell behind Devin Hower of Piedra Vista, but fought back to get the 5-4 decision in the last minute of the match, earning a chance at third place. The Pirate won his final match, 9-5, over Justin Shupe, of Bayfield.
“Dakota came back really strong,” said Janowsky. “He put that first match behind him. He’s emerging as a team leader.”
Clinton Manzanares placed third at 189, winning three of four matches. Manzanares beat Christian Acosta of Piedra Vista 6-3, but was pinned in his second match by Sam Peters, of St. Pius. A dominating 17-4 win over Donathon Henry of Newcombe gave Manzanares the chance to fight Xavier Lee, of Farmington, for third place. The Pirate pinned Lee at 1:31.
“Clinton wrestled well,” said the coach. “He wrestled decent competition and had to work hard.”
Jordan Neuleib took fourth place at 171 with two wins — a fall at 41 seconds against a wrestler from Miyamura, and a 3-2 decision over an opponent from Durango.
Preston Sandoval was fourth at 285. Sandoval pinned a St. Pius wrestler at the 43-second mark and pinned an opponent from Bloomfield.
Ryan Hamilton earned team points with a 21-3 decision over a wrestler from Shiprock at 152 pounds.
The Pirates did not compete at 103, 125, 135 or 215.
“The tournament semifinals saw some good wrestling,” said Janowsky, “with some tough fights.
“It was good choice to go to this tournament (the Pirates have often participated at the Warrior Classic, in Grand Junction — one of Colorado’s toughest regular season tournaments, and one at which many wrestlers are eliminated quickly). We got a lot of wrestling in. A tournament like this gives us an opportunity to coach our guys through their mistakes. This year, we have a team that needs to recover from mistakes, to learn from them. Our guys are putting out good effort and this last weekend featured a lot of examples of guys fighting hard in difficult situations. These guys have combative instincts when they’re in trouble, and that’s a good thing to build on.”
The Pirates will have plenty of chances for combat when they return from holiday break. On Thursday, Jan. 7, Durango will be in town for a dual meet. On Friday, Jan. 8, the Pirates host the Rocky Mountain duals, entertaining Air Academy, Widefield, Bloomfield and Espanola Valley. Saturday, Jan. 9, is the annual Rocky Mountain Invitational, with 16 teams visiting the PSHS gym.