Wrestling is the most basic of high school sports — the most basic and, most times, the harshest.
A wrestler learns lessons in a frank and unforgiving fashion and, for most, a high school career is a record of lessons learned and a progressively better performance compiled as a result.
Such is the case for Pagosa wrestlers as they enter the 2012 portion of the season — a season in which there are difficult matches to be fought by members of a predominantly young team, lessons to be learned and progress to be made.
The Pirates traveled to Monte Vista for an Intermountain league dual match on Jan. 5 and came home on the losing end of a 39-36 score.
Dalton Gregory won his match at 132 pounds, pinning Dillon Martinez at the 59-second mark.
Cassidy DeYapp earned six points for his team in a bout at 145, pinning Garrett Pacheco at 4:56.
Cody Snow earned a 10-7 decision at 152.
Morgan Shelton fought to a 12-8 decision at 170.
“We wrestled fairly well,” said coach Dan Janowsky. “It was tough for both teams. We took seven of fourteen matches, with some of them forfeits.”
The next night, the Pirates returned to the home gym to host the Rocky Mountain Duals. The Pagosans were 1-2 on the night, defeating Espanola Valley 33-21 and losing matches to Air Academy (48-14) and Widefield (35-30).
Cody Kimsey earned a decision against Espanola Valley at 120.
Gregory won matches with pins against Air Academy and Widefield.
Austin Courtney got a win at 126 with a fall versus Espanola Valley.
Aaron Yazzie pinned his opponent from Espanola Valley at 145.
Justin Lucero fought at 160 against an athlete from Espanola Valley and won with a pin.
Morgan Shelton took a technical fall against an Air Academy wrestler.
Danny Shahan (138) and Creede Wylie (285) earned six points each with falls against Widefield opponents.
“We had wrestled pretty well the night before at Monte Vista and had a decent start against Widefield, got thumped by Air Academy then beat Espanola Valley,” said the coach. “We were already starting to spiral, with injuries and whatnot, and we started to lose focus. Also, when you wrestle at home, there are distractions, and those distractions started working on us,” Janowsky said.
By Saturday, the spiral was in effect, and there were lessons to be learned … the hard way.
On Saturday, Pagosa hosted the annual Rocky Mountain Invitational, this year featuring an 18-team field. By day’s end, the Pirates were in 12th place
Injuries played a role in the Pirates’ day at the Rocky, with two wrestlers lost during action Friday night — Silas Thompson at 132 and Chase Purcell at 160.
In the first round Saturday, DeYapp went out with a neck injury and Shelton was lost to injury during second-round tournament action.
Three Pirates finished the day in fourth place — Gregory, Shahan and Wiley. Alonzo Hernandez took seventh at 195.
“Dalton Gregory had an outstanding battle in the semifinals,” said the coach. “He lost 7-4 to Alex Pena of Ignacio, a three-time state champion. He pushed him hard. It was probably our best match of the day.”
According to Janowsky, Shahan, “... showed some good signs. He won some good matches to get to the semis.”
Wylie had returned to action this week following a lengthy recovery period from injury and the coach said, “It was good to get him back. He’s our only returning state qualifier and he wrestled real well for the first time out.”
Of Hernandez, the coach said, “If you have a freshman who can compete at 195, you have real potential.”
Pirates winning matches at the Rocky included:
• Chris Archuleta, with a pin at 120.
• Gregory, with a pin and a major decision at 126.
• Shahan with two pins at 138.
• Cody Snow, with a pin at 152.
• Wylie, with a pin at 285.
“At certain points in a tournament,” said Janowsky, “you need to keep your intensity, keep getting better, and a lot of that is the coaches’ job.
“Now, its going to get tougher. We dual Bayfield, in Bayfield Thursday (tonight) then come home to dual Durango Friday. Then we go to Alamosa (for the always formidable Alamosa Invitational) on Saturday. We’re prepared to fight our way through it, and that’s what we’re going to do.”