When the going gets tough in a sport like wrestling, an athlete cannot afford to sit back and wait for the action to come to him.
You wait, and the result is usually guaranteed.
Further, when you are young and inexperienced, when you find yourself competing against older, often stronger athletes, chances are good you are going to lose as many or more matches than you win.
So, how do you make the most of the situation? How do you maximize your learning, win a few matches as the season comes to a close, and set yourself up for success?
For the Pirates, that’s the plan.
The need for such a tactic is clear. Last week, the Pirates took it on the chin at two dual meets — losing 66-9 to Centauri in an Intermountain League dual on Thursday and 52-30 to Del Norte on Friday.
The setup was familiar: the Pirates were missing a number of key veterans, due to injury. Chase Patney, Morgan Shelton, Silas Thompson, Cassidy DeYapp and Creede Wylie were out of action.
In the fray was a bevy of freshmen — almost half the lineup filled with newcomers to varsity action.
Hesitation was the order of the day.
“I don’t think we wrestled hard at all against Centauri,” said Pirate coach Dan Janowsky. “The next night, against Del Norte, was a little better.”
Only one Pirate wrestled his way to a win in the dual against the Falcons: Danny Shahan took a 5-0 decision from Dan Sowards at 138 pounds.
Two Pirates earned points on the mat against Del Norte, the remainder of Pagosa’s points coming off forfeits.
Dalton Gregory pinned Robert Gonzales at the 1:45 mark of a match at 126 pounds.
Alonzo Hernandez, likewise, earned six points with a fall, pinning Brian Bothell at the 59-second mark of a match at 195.
“On the plus side,” said Janowsky, “we have a direction to go.”
That direction in the final three weeks of the season?
“We’ve been way too passive,” said the coach. “You don’t stand and wait for people to attack. As an underdog, our only hope of winning comes if we attack aggressively. We’ve got to do that over the next few weeks.”
Janowsky acknowledged the difficulty faced by most freshmen when they find themselves on the varsity roster.
“We have seven freshmen. If they learn to attack now, it will make it better for them later on. When the whistle blows, you can’t take a step back to see what happens. Our best wrestlers over the years have all taken the fight to the opponent.”
As far as the injury situation goes, Janowsky is optimistic. Last week, the Pirates saw Chase Purcell return to the battle. Purcell came back as a light 160-pounder, and got his first fights in at 170 — a tough baptism of fire. With the return of other wrestlers to the roster, Purcell should return to his accustomed slot.
“I think if we are able to get most of the other guys back, we’ll be a decent team,” said the coach, looking ahead to post-season qualifying and state tournament prospects.
The team has had a full week to train, with no duals since last Friday and returns to competition at the Centauri dual meet tourney on Saturday.
The tournament lineup is formidable, featuring some of the state’s better Class 3A teams. Centauri will be joined by Florence and Gunnison. Monte Vista, Buena Vista and Trinidad will travel to the event, as will perennial 2A power Rocky Ford.
“If we get our weights lined out,” said Janowsky, “we can get back in it and make the duals interesting.”