Let the battles begin.
High school wrestling action begins in earnest Saturday as the Pirates travel to Farmington for a dual meet tournament to kick off the 2012-2013 season.
It will be a return trip to New Mexico for Pagosa wrestlers; the team continued with preseason preparations last week at a scrimmage in Farmington.
That scrimmage confirmed for coach Dan Janowsky some things he has seen developing throughout the practices leading up to the season opener.
“There was the good and the bad,” said the coach.
“The bad is that we are not where we need to be. The guys are still making a lot of mistakes that we need to clear up in order to get better.”
But, considering the good things Janowsky saw at the scrimmage, and has consistently seen in the practice room this year, the negative is outweighed by the positive.
“The good thing,” said the coach, “is that I feel good about this team because of the way they approach the situation. They are positive, aware of the mistakes, and they work hard to correct the mistakes. We’re moving in the right direction every day.
“We are where we want to be in terms of attitude, and strength and conditioning. Our technical skills need to get better. If we want to take a large group to state, we need to fix some things.”
This season, with this team, the chance to fix things might be optimal.
“Some years,” said Janowsky, “it seems you’re working on the same thing week after week. I don’t think that’s the case with these guys.”
A number of Pirates performed well at the Farmington scrimmage — a practice room-like environment where coaches cannot evaluate all their athletes all the time.
Janowsky saw enough to be positive concerning what lies ahead.
“We had a bunch of guys who did well,” said Janowsky. “Morgan Shelton, Keith Archuleta, Chase Purcell, Dalton Gregory, Michael Mills and Cody Snow. We had another group who were fifty-fifty or so at the scrimmage. And there are guys like Creede Wylie where you can see the potential — a little short of mat experience, because he missed all last year, but he has made real strides with his athletic development.
“We want guys to be aggressive and take risks, but now, at times, they can get a little too reckless. We can correct that.”
The first tournament of the regular season, a dual meet tourney involving 10 teams, will provide the opportunities to make corrections.
Pagosa is in a five-team pool with Farmington, Bloomfield, Cibola and Carlsbad and will dual those teams in that order, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Each team will then move on to dual the same-seeded team from the other pool. The second pool at Farmington includes Aztec, Dove Creek, Eldorado, Kirtland and Monument Valley.
“We will probably forfeit the three or four lowest weights (106, 113, 120 and 126),” said Janowsky. “We have wrestlers available at those weights, but I don’t want to rush freshmen into something they’re not ready for.”
When the team returns from Farmington, the athletes will be back in the practice room, back to the technical training that leads to steady improvement, looking ahead to the Columbine Invitational set for the next weekend.
Ahead of that looms league and regional competition, so the improvements will have to be real and regular. Pagosa faces a number of solid Intermountain League programs this year — as usual. Alamosa never fails to produce a formidable lineup, and Monte Vista and Centauri could be as good or better than last year. Bayfield also brings a tough contingent to the mats. In the regional forecast, Florence is again predicted to be in top form.
“When the season ended last year,” said Janowsky, “we were behind all these teams. But, this year is different: If I had to take a team and develop them in a situation like this, I would want a group like we have this year.”