The Pirate wrestling team capped off the 2010 portion of the season in strong style, winning a 16-team tournament last weekend at John Mall High School in Walsenburg.
The Pirates were originally scheduled to compete at the Piedra Vista tournament in Farmington, but administrative problems with the tourney application prevented the trip.
According to Coach Dan Janowsky, the change in plan was just what the doctor ordered. The Walsenburg experience provided a group of relatively young athletes a chance to see a lot of action, learn a lot of lessons, and achieve a measure of success before the holiday break.
Among the 16 teams at the regular format tournament were five Class 3A teams, including Pagosa’s regional opponents Manitou Springs and Trinidad. Pagosa won the event with 168 points, finishing ahead of Holy Family (164), John Mall (155), Peyton (151.5) and Trinidad (121).
“Everybody on the team got at least three matches, and some got five,” said Janowsky. “I thought it worked out nice; we got a lot of good wrestling out of it. It was good with respect to the development of some of our mid-level group; we took nine guys and we had three champs, four in third place and one in fourth to win the tournament.”
Each of the three Pirate tournament champs — Dalton Gregory, Will Appenzeller and Dakota Miller — made his way to first-place with a string of pins.
“All three pinned their way through their brackets,” said the coach. “In fact, I don’t think there were any offensive points scored against us. We gave up some intentional mistakes, but no one scored on us. These guys dominated. It was obvious that Will and Dakota belonged at another level, and it was obvious Dalton is really progressing as the season gets underway. Will and Dakota could contend for high state medals if they put things together the next couple of months. They are in the hunt. And that’s the way I see our team. We have three reliable seniors (Appenzeller, Miller and Sandoval) and the rest of our guys are working hard and making progress.”
Gregory took the title at 125 pounds with four victories. The Pirate pinned Anthony Chavez of Mountain Valley 19 seconds into their first-round match. Gregory came back with another win by fall — this time at 52 seconds — against Nick Quintana of Mountain Valley. The next to fall was Daniel Carvalho of Holy Family, at 1:21. The Pirate took the championship by pinning Richard Baca of Trinidad at 4:38.
Appenzeller pinned three opponents at 140. First was Joshua Valencia, of Taos, whose shoulders went down at the 18-second mark. Appenzeller then pinned Brian Aguirre, of John Mall, at 1:40. The title went to Appenzeller when he pinned Michael Luca of Holy Family, at 3:53.
Miller put together a string of three wins by fall to overwhelm the field at 145. The Pirate pinned Kevin Mestas of Peyton at 3:04. Miller earned the win by fall over Steven Connelly of Holy Family at 1:01. The final match saw Miller pin Wyatt Pearson of Mountain Valley at 3:30.
Third place finishers at the tournament included Dane Murdock (130), Danny Shahan (152), Ty Lobato (171) and Preston Sandoval (215).
Murdock lost his first match to a wrestler from Taos, then got three wins by fall — over Robert Gonzales, of Del Norte at 45 seconds, John Burch of John Mall at 2:39, and Dylan Wright of Trinidad at :42. In the battle for third, Murdoch managed a critical 14-12 win in overtime over Oscar Archuleta of Manitou Springs.
Shahan also lost his first match of the tournament to a wrestler from Peyton. He then came back with four solid wins to finish third, pinning Estevan Valdez of Taos at 2:29, earning an 11-5 decision over Gage Petryk of Manitou Springs, beating Anthony Mendoza of Swink, and getting a 3-2 decision over Josh Floyd of Peyton.
Lobato won his first match at Walsenburg, pinning Fisher Cross of Peyton at 3:48. A loss to a wrestler from John Mall threw Lobato into the hunt for third, which he captured with a 13-2 major decision over Domonic Pisciotta of Pueblo Centennial, and a 5-2 decision over Josiah Simmons of Peyton.
Sandoval pinned Rocky Ford’s Daniel Saucedo at 3:28 then lost by decision to an athlete from Swink. The Pirate came back with two wins by fall — over Angelo Rascon of Trinidad at :46 and Richy Richardson of Pueblo Centennial at 1:15.
Freshman Morgan Shelton took fourth place wrestling up a class at 160. Shelton began by decisioning Tharen Smith of Del Norte 14-13, and Patrick Salas of Rocky Ford 10-4. A loss to a wrestler from Holy Family put the Pirate in fourth place.
Freshman Creede Wiley also earned team points at the tournament, fighting at 285. Wylie pinned Zane Francescato, of Sargent, at 58 seconds.
Janowsky was happy with the way the 2010 schedule ended.
“I don’t see how it could have gone much better for us in the early months,” he said. “They are working hard, they’ve bonded as a team and they are supporting each other. It’s been a pleasant group to coach and I believe we’re building something really good.”
The Pirates have nine opportunities to practice over the holiday break. “We have a good plan for the holiday,” said the coach, “if the guys are able to, and want to take advantage of it.”
The practice will pay off, since the season begins with a monster run of matches shortly after the wrestlers return to school Jan. 3. First up is a dual meet against Monte Vista , at home on Jan. 6 — the first Intermountain League dual of the season. Next, on Jan. 7, Pagosa hosts the Rocky Mountain Duals, a six-team event. The first week winds up Jan. 8 at the Rocky Mountain Invitational, when the Pirates host 16 teams at one of the premier regular season events in the region.