Pirate wrestlers made a long trip to the Denver area last weekend, to the Columbine Invitational.
The trip paid off: Pagosa took fourth place in a field of 12 teams, had six athletes place in the top four in their weight classes, with one tournament champion.
All with a team lacking wrestlers at several weights.
Cody Snow took top honors at 152 pounds, and his win in the final was critical to Pagosa’s eventual fourth-place team finish.
“Cody led the way for us,” said coach Dan Janowsky. “And he had a tough match in the finals against a kid from Bennett. Cody had a lead and he had to hold on to it. He found a way to win and the points gave us a jump from seventh to fourth.”
Creede Wylie finished in second place at heavyweight, winning two of three matches. Wylie beat wrestlers from two 5A schools — Mitchell and Columbine — before dropping the title match to a state-placer from 3A Bennett.
“Creede fought some big, athletic heavyweights,” said the coach, “and he did well.”
Alonzo Hernandez continued his successful ways at 220, taking third place at Columbine. His win in his final match of the tournament also contributed in an important way to the Pirates’ team finish.
“He got a pin in his match for third place,” said Janowsky, “and that pin gave us critical bonus points.”
Pagosa had three wrestlers place fourth at the tournament. Dalton Gregory (132) and Morgan Shelton (182) competed in what were arguably two of the toughest weight classes at the event, and Aaron Yazzie competed at 138, being held out of the fight for third place as he continues to recover from an injury.
Two other Pirates earned points for their team: Michael Mills wrestled up two weights and earned points at 145 and Chase Purcell took three of five matches at 170.
Bennett, ranked highly in early 3A polls, took the honors at Columbine, with 4A Longmont second and 5A Arapahoe third.
Janowsky remains pleased with the progress his team is making in the early going, with no illusions about what needs to be done.
“The race is on,” he said. “We know where we are: we’re not at the back of the pack, but we’re not at the front. We’re better than average right now.
“We finished fourth out of twelve teams and didn’t take a full team to Columbine. We left some guys who might eventually start for us and score points for us.
“We wrestled better than last week (at Farmington), but we still have a lot to check off our list before we can be considered contenders. We’re making progress. We didn’t make the mistakes we made the week before and that’s encouraging. The effort was good and, when the tournament was over, nobody felt down about it. The guys are starting to sense their capabilities and, now, we need to stay at it, keep plugging away.”
The Pirates have another chance to exhibit the progress made in practice during the week when they hit the road again, motoring to Walsenburg for this weekend’s John Mall Invitational.
Friday, Pagosa will dual a perennial 2A power, Swink, and the team is set to meet Taos, N.M., in a dual match as well. Saturday, the team competes at the invitational which, if history is a guide, could include a number of quality 2A and 3A squads.