Hectic week awaits Pirate grapplers


    Staff Writer

    Are you ready for some wrestling?

    The members of the Pirate wrestling team better be ready … they are going to do a lot of it in the span of three days.

    Prior to the vacation break, coach Dan Janowsky expressed the hope that his young charges would tend to business during the holiday and maintain their conditioning during the time no organized practices were allowed.

    The reason? There’s a dual meet at Alamosa today, a set of duals at Pagosa Friday night, and the Rocky Mountain Invitational at the PSHS gym Saturday.

    A lot of action in a short period of time.

    Be in shape … or fold.

    When his athletes returned to practice, Janowsky was generally pleased with what he saw.

    “The varsity kids, with a couple of exceptions, managed to keep their conditioning. I don’t think we’ll have a lot of issues with holding weight following vacation. This shows that our guys’ natural weights are pretty lean, and it shows how the sport has progressed, with kids understanding the science of it.”

    It is going to take a bit more than science, however, to provide the Pirates with a successful opening to the 2013 portion of the season. The new year is going to start in high gear, with a difficult schedule providing an excellent learning experience for the wrestlers.

    Tonight, the Mean Moose host Pagosa and, as is the case with any trip to the wrestling Mecca in the San Luis Valley, the battle will be ferocious.

    “It doesn’t get a lot tougher — three days after returning from vacation, starting off with that team,” said Janowsky.

    There will be no rest, though, with a dual meet tournament the next night in the Pagosa gym. The Pirates will likely compete in three duals, in one of two pools. The field includes the home team, Widefield, Air Academy, Espanola Valley, Bloomfield, Taos and Ignacio.

    “Those teams are coming to dual,” said Janowsky, “and there’s some pretty stout competition there.”

    But, the whirlwind will not abate. The annual tournament takes place the next day, with 17 teams expected to attend.

    “By the end of the day Saturday, with Thursday and Friday complete,” said the coach, “our guys could compete a total of seven or eight times.”

    In other words, there’ll be no easing back into the action, no testing the waters with a toe; the Pirates will start 2013 at full speed.

    “It’s really a test,” said the coach, “and it’s practice for what is ahead. It gives the guys the opportunity to compete, work on skills, make adjustments when they need to. They have to recover, have to rebound from defeats and victories. It readies them for what they’ll face as the state tournament nears. A lot of teams come to our tournament for this reason, but we’re the only one to wrestle three days in a row.”

    Janowsky expects to fill 11 weight slots on the roster for this week’s competitions, but hesitates to put young members of the team into action before they are ready — and many of those athletes compete in the three lightest weight classes. Whether a Pirate takes to the mat at those weights remains to be seen.

    Fans needing a wrestling fix can begin with the dual meets on Friday. Bouts begins at 5 p.m.

    On Saturday, the tournament starts at 10 a.m., with finals expected to begin at 5:30 p.m.

    Many of the 17 teams coming to town are ranked highly in their respective classes: Air Academy and Durango rank well in Colorado 4A. Aztec is back on track with another in a series of improving teams and is ranked in New Mexico.

    All of the Intermountain League teams but Alamosa will travel to Pagosa Saturday, with Centauri and Monte Vista ranked in the top 10 in Colorado 3A. Del Norte brings a strong 2A squad to town, with a number of excellent individual wrestlers.

    “It’s going to be tough from here on out,” said Janowsky, “and things go by pretty quickly down the stretch (the state tournament is Feb. 21-23). We have a better team than we’ve had the last few years and we want to know where we stand.”

    This week will go a long way toward answering the question.