The winter sport season is here and it is time for that toughest and most honest of high school sports — wrestling.
Pirate coach Dan Janowsky and his staff have a crowd in the wrestling room as the 2011-12 Pirates prepare for a season that begins the first weekend of December.
With 57 names on the initial roster, and at least 50 athletes following pace in the program, Janowsky can reasonably expect 45 or so to remain as work continues, with 35-40, “kids who really like wrestling.”
It is a sport an athlete has to like. It is far too unforgiving to permit anything less than sincere commitment.
The Pirate squad shows an abundance of freshman and sophomore wrestlers out for the sport this fall and they join some seasoned junior and senior athletes for a year that will feature a revised weight classification. This season, wrestlers will compete at 106 pounds, and at 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. The new classification removes a mid-weight class and adds a class in the upper weight region (195).
“We have a lot of pretty good middle-size guys,” said Janowsky, “so it takes one spot away from them. It will be interesting to see how this change impacts our lineup and the state tournament.”
The Pirates will have nine wrestlers back who made it to regional competition last season. Sophomore Cody Kimsey (probable at 120), senior Silas Thompson (132), junior Dalton Gregory (132), sophomore Jeremiah Miller (132), junior Keith Archuleta (138), senior Danny Shahan (145), junior Chase Purcell (160), senior Ty Lovato (182-195) and sophomore Creede Wylie (220-285).
“We had so many injuries and illnesses last season,” said Janowsky, “that we have quite a few guys coming back with some varsity experience under their belts.”
Among the other athletes who could make a contribution on the varsity before season’s end, Janowsky singled out freshmen Chase Patney and Alonzo Hernandez at 182, junior Cole Zellner (113-126), sophomore Cassidy DeYapp (145), sophomore Morgan Shelton (170), junior Cody Snow (152-160), senior Dane Murdock (132) and junior Lake Roman (126-132).
“We’re going to have some younger kids at one-hundred six to one-hundred thirty-eight who could compete — freshman Chris Archuleta, sophomore Michael Mills and Aaron Yazzie.”
It is youth that will be the telling factor this season, one way or the other. Maturity is the key.
“It’s going to be an interesting team,” said the coach. “Our young guys are fundamentally sound, ahead of a lot of kids we’ve had at that age in the past. But, they need to make that transition; they need to mature. The transition that occurs between the freshman and sophomore years to a mature wrestler takes some time and I hope the kids and their parents are patient.
“We are starting with very little state tournament experience (only Lovato and Wylie return from last year’s state tournament contingent) and it is a long, uphill road to compete at that level.”
To start, though, Janowsky thinks his squad will, “be pretty competitive in dual meets and small tournaments, and I see us developing over the course of this season, and next. I think we have something going for us. The question is, How long will it take us to develop and mature? We’ve been putting a lot of time in and I think people will be surprised by what we put out there.”
The Pirates traveled to Farmington Monday for a scrimmage involving Farmington and several other area programs.
The first meet of the season is in Bayfield on Dec. 3.