Pirate wrestling coach Dan Janowsky thought the return to the 2010 portion of the season afforded an opportunity for his athletes to get in a wealth of matches, and for him and his assistants to have the opportunity to do the coaching needed at this juncture.
He was right.
Beginning Thursday with a dual meet against the Durango Demons, going to Friday at the Rocky Mountain Duals with competitions against three programs, and ending Saturday as Pagosa hosted the 17-team Rocky Mountain Innovational, the Pirates got in their share, and more, of action.
The team started slow, losing by a hefty margin to the Demons on Thursday.
“We didn’t do well against Durango,” said Janowsky. “It wasn’t our best lineup; we had four freshman out there, and one sophomore, but we did what we could, given the circumstances. The thing is, we gave up some big points; we had the lead in four or five matches and ended up giving up the pin. In that situation, you go from gaining three points in a match to giving six points to your opponents. Put four of those kind of matches together, you have a big deficit.”
It took a while for the Pirates to get into gear Friday night, as they, Espanola Valley, Widefield and Bloomfield met at the Rocky Mountain Duals. The team lost to Widefield (a Colorado Springs 5A team) and to Bloomfield, before beating Espanola Valley.
“Toward the end of the meet, our guys started recognizing some of the problems they were having, and they started correcting them,” said the coach. “The problem Friday, in fact the problem all three days, was a lot of our guys were getting tired — a lot of them were wrestling with their heads down. When you wrestle with your head down, you’re easy to turn, it’s easy to lose.”
Saturday, Pagosa ended up in the middle of the pack when the team scores were tabulated — eighth among 17 teams.
“It was a tight team race,” said Janowsky. “We probably could have finished as high as fifth place, with an adjusted lineup.”
Senior Waylon Lucero won the tourney championship at 160 pounds.
Lucero pinned Jamie Esquibel, of Espanola Valley, at 3 minutes, three seconds, in the first round of action.
In the quarterfinal round, Lucero pinned Javi Mjalca, of Center, at 4:59.
A 14-8 decision over Brenden Harrison, of Bayfield, put the Pirates in the finals, where he faced Jordan Hamilton, of Centauri.
Lucero pinned Hamilton to take the title.
“Waylon is starting to understand how physical he can be,” said Janowsky. “He has a good series on top, with a lot of options he can think about. And, when he’s aggressive on his feet, he’s good there, too. He has now won two tournaments in a row, and that’s hard to do.”
Jordan Neuleib took second place at 171.
The junior started his day with a 9-2 decision over Logan Sapout, of Espanola Valley.
In the quarterfinal, the Pirate pinned Justin Hamilton, of Centauri, at 5:23.
An 11-3 decision over Tyrel Shupe, of Monticello earned Neuleib a trip to the final. Neuleib lost the title bout on a 4-2 decision to D.J. Hightower, of Widefield.
“Jordan was a pleasant surprise,” said the coach. “I knew he was capable of that, but you need to remember, Jordan has been plagued with a case of exercise-induced asthma. We’ve been working on a strategy to get him through that and he did a good job of staying in positions that didn’t exhaust him. Jordan is strong and has good technique.”
Clint Manzanares was third at 189, with a 2-1 record. Manzanares pinned L. Sinig, of Durango, at 1:08 and nailed down third place with a convincing 9-1 decision over Hank Strauss, of Aztec. Manzanares’ only loss was a 5-4 decision to an Air Academy wrestler — a match in which the Pirate came from behind with an escape and a takedown to earn a tie, only to lose when a bad break allowed his opponent to earn a last-second point on an escape.
“Clint is wrestling as well as anyone on the team right now,” said Janowsky. “He’s doing what we like him to do.”
Two Pirates took fourth place in their weight classes: Dakota Miller, at 135, and Andrew Rice, at 215.
Both wrestlers were 2-2 for the tourney. Miller got his two victories with a pin over Dominick Sigala, of Widefield and an 11-9 decision over Isiah Martinez, of Espanola Valley — a match in which Miller came from behind, scoring two takedowns within 40 seconds near the end of regulation time.
Rice beat Lorenzo Vigil of Widefield, 11-7 and pinned Serbando Moreno, of Center.
Will Appenzeller got three wins at 140, with pins of athletes from Center and Bloomfield, and a decision over an opponent from Sargent.
Ryan Hamilton earned two victories at 160 — two decisions over Tino Lister, of Pagosa.
E.J. Romero logged two wins during the day at 112 — falls against a wrestler competing without affiliation and an opponent from Bloomfield.
Several Pirates scored one victory during the tournament: Cole Zellner and Silas Thompson, at 103; Koby Close at 145; Tino Lister at 160; Preston Sandoval at 215; and Patrick Manzanares at 275.
The Pirates compete next at Saturday’s Alamosa Invitational, traditionally a tough tournament featuring teams from a number of top-flight Class 4A and 5A teams. The team is then off until a dual meet against Monte Vista on Jan. 21. That meet will be the undercard for the Adams State College Central Oklahoma dual at Plachy Hall on the Adams State campus.