Five Pirate wrestlers will compete at the state tournament at Denver this week.
The five grapplers qualified at a highly-competitive Region 4 tournament at Monte Vista last Friday and Saturday.
Creede Wylie took first place at regionals at 285 pounds; Morgan Shelton was second at 170; David McRee was third at 182; Cody Snow (150) and Dalton Gregory (138) took fourth place at their weights.
Wylie began his trek to the regional championship with a first round bye. The Pirate junior was the seventh-seeded wrestler in a bracket of seven so, in his quarterfinal match, Wylie met the No. 2 seed, Greg Martinez, of Centauri. Wylie walked off the mat with a decisive 7-1 decision.
In the semifinal, Wylie earned the win with a 7-4 decision over Kevin Tuttle of Florence.
Wylie cinched the title with an emphatic win over Trinidad’s Raymond Riggins — a 14-5 major decision.
Coach Dan Janowsky commented on the heavyweight bracket at the tournament noting it had but seven wrestlers — all seven with winning records (Wylie entered the tournament as the lowest seed with a 24-8 record).
“That was the toughest heavyweight bracket at regionals I’ve seen,” said Janowsky. “Creede had to start against the number two, the kid from Centauri who had beaten him twice this year. The kid from Florence had beaten Creede in the past. In the finals, Creede got a good win; the closest he came to losing a match was in the finals, when he was called for a slam.”
Shelton’s second place finish puts the junior in Denver next week against the other 15 qualifiers from regional tournaments.
Following a first-round bye, Shelton pinned Colten Veatch of Florence 44 seconds into their match.
In the semifinal, Shelton found victory with a 9-4 decision of Chris Aguirre of Alamosa.
Shelton’s only loss came to Centauri’s Jensen Hamilton in the finals.
The Pirate was back to hard work the first part of this week, fine tuning aspects of his techniques prior to the trip to Denver.
“Morgon was seeded second in the bracket,” said Janowsky, “and he wrestled to his seed. We need to work on his escapes and reversals. He is hard to beat when he wrestles on his feet; we just need to develop a bit more on the bottom work.”
McCree, a sophomore, got a bye in the first round, then beat Isaac Medina of Monte Vista 4-0 in the quarterfinal.
Dropping his semifinal match to Jareb Aziz, of Centauri, McRee moved to the consolation semifinal where he pinned Sam Morgan of Florence at 5:26.
McRee secured third place with a 9-0 major decision over Medina.
“David’s is a wonderful story,” said Janowsky. “He came to wrestling somewhat late, in junior high. As a sophomore, he’s tall and rangy. He is a good competitor — cool under pressure, with good stamina and endurance. The leverage a tall wrestler has is always a problem for opponents, and David has figured that out.”
Snow battled in what is invariably one of the toughest weight classes — 152. The regional bracket featured wrestlers Snow had lost to this season and some with whom he had split.
Following a first-round bye, Snow pinned Robert Anderson of Colorado Springs Christian at 1:41.
A loss by decision in the semifinal to Julian Gallegos of Dolores Huerta put the Pirate in the consolation semi, where he forged a tight, 7-6 decision over James Richardson, of Centauri.
Snow lost to Scott Sandoval of Florence in the battle for third and was awarded fourth by rule over Richardson.
“Cody’s semifinal was close,” said the coach, “and the other guy was able to regroup with some delays. We gambled at the end of the match and got put on our back. In reality, it was a one-point match. It was the same in the fight for third; Cody had to take chances. The big match was the consolation semi: the guy had beaten Cody before. It was a gutty performance by Cody. In that bracket, he could have won it on another day and, on another, he might have finished out of the top four or five.”
Gregory will go to his final state tournament, edging into fourth with a win in a wrestleback — the end of a regional tourney that began with a first-round bye. Gregory then lost his quarterfinal match and moved to the consolation second round battle where he won with a 10-1 major decision over Titus Hocking of Colorado Springs Christian.
In the third round of consolation, Gregory pinned Jake Bartlett of Manitou Springs at 3:59.
A loss in the consolation semi put Gregory in the fight for fifth. He pinned Jeffrey Cooper of Monte Vista at 1:33 and moved to the wrestleback, where an 8-7 decision over Dustin James of Florence earned the Pirate the trip to Denver.
“This was another tough weight,” said Janowsky. “Dalton started slow against Monte Vista, wrestled hard, but lost in the consolation semi. He was in a hole, but then he pinned the kid from Monte Vista. He came out ready to wrestle and got the pin. In the match against the kid from Florence, it was close. The other kid got a reversal, there were twenty seconds left, Dalton was working to escape and the kid from Florence was assessed a technical point for grabbing the jersey.”
Several other Pirates won matches at the regional tournament, but will not make the trip to Denver.
Micheal Mills got a pin against a Florence wrestler at 132.
Alonzo Hernandez took fifth place at 220, earning a decision over an opponent from Centauri.
Chris Archuleta placed fifth at 126 with decisions over wrestlers from St. Mary’s and Dolores Huerta and a pin against an opponent from Trinidad.
“We did not wrestle well on Friday,” said the coach. “I thought the kids were ready for some superior performances, but this was the first regional tournament for some of them and they came out flat on Friday. Sometimes they wrestled hard, but not smart. Sometimes, they were timid.
“Saturday was a crazy day. Our kids were awesome on Saturday. We didn’t win all the matches, but we had some good wins — Mills, Hernandez, Chris Archuleta. We had thirty-five matches Saturday and all of them were nailbiters. In spite of the ups and downs, we had fun; there was so much passion. A tournament like this is a special event in high school sports. We qualified five guys. Centauri, which won the tournament, only qualified seven. Because of the parity, there was a lot of balance among the teams (Pagosa took seventh place in the team standings). Because of the balance, our guys who qualified for state will be better prepared. It was a tough region and we were one of the reasons it was tough.”
Janowsky has a good feeling about the state tournament, which starts today at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
“I think we’re taking five good guys to Denver,” he said. “All are capable of winning a medal (medals are awarded through sixth place in the 16-person brackets). If you’re in the top four in our region, there’s a good chance you are in the top six at state … if you fight for it. Our guys are tough; they proved that Saturday.”