The Pirates faced tough competition this past weekend at the Rocky Mountain Invitational (RMI). Held at the high school, the 18-team tournament was an individual, double-elimination style competition.
Despite facing fierce competitors, the Pirates placed seventh as a team, scoring 130.5 points based on placement of individual wrestlers. The three top teams at the tournament were Monticello, placing first with a team score of 195; Monte Vista, placing second with a team score of 178; and Centauri, placing third with a team score of 164.5.
Out of nine Pagosa wrestlers competing in the finals in their weight class, seven won their high-stakes match up.
Head coach Dan Janowsky explained that the team doesn’t prepare much differently for an individual tournament than for a dual meet. In fact, it’s easier to prepare for a dual because the team will likely face only one style of wrestling -— at an 18-team tournament, wrestlers face 18 different styles of wrestling. Still, the team had a hard week of practice before the tournament and the wrestlers responded positively to the practice, performing well last Saturday.
The two champion Pirate wrestlers were seniors Micheal Mills at 132 pounds and Creede Wylie at 285. Wiley was dominant all day, defeating all opponents except his opponent in the championship round by pinfall. Wiley won the championship round 10-0. Mills had closer matches, including a dramatic semifinal where he scored winning points with less than 10 seconds left on the clock against a competitor from Monte Vista that had defeated him before this season.
“That key win means he’s (Mills) really showing improvement. That was the first time he has beaten that opponent,” said Janowsky.
Other top finishes included juniors David McRee at 170 and Alonso Hernandez at 195 both taking third; junior Chase Patane at 182 and sophomore Chance McReynolds at 150 both taking fifth; senior Aaron Yazzie at 152 taking sixth; junior JC Parsons at 160 taking seventh; and sophomore Tyler Cowan at 145 taking eighth.
Janowsky said that McReynold’s finish was a pleasant surprise and that the young wrestler is developing well and growing to really hold a spot on the varsity squad. Yazzie’s finish was also exciting as he performed well coming off of an injury.
“The sophomore class is starting to look very competitive and promising,” said Janowsky, “and we hope to keep Yazzie in the lineup for the rest of the season.”
Janowsky said that spectacular performances from the seven top-placing Pagosa wrestlers contributed greatly to a seventh-place team finish, but that the Pirates didn’t score any points at some weights.
“We’re definitely building momentum, but also had some missed opportunities,” said Janowsky, “but it was very positive weekend on the whole.”
The RMI was a success, with over 300 matches wrestled and no serious injuries. Competitors from Pagosa and other schools fought hard all day, but the tournament was made possible by dedicated community volunteers and wrestling fans. According to Janowsky, the tournament was first-rate and the community members that came out to help make it happen did a fantastic job.
In addition to wrestling in the tournament last Saturday, the Pirates competed in two dual meets against Bloomfield and Sheridan Friday evening. Unfortunately, the Pirates lost to Bloomfield for the second time this season, 32-43, although this loss was an improvement over the previous loss. Janowsky explained that the dual on Friday was much closer and more competitive and that Pirate wrestlers were even able to win some matches against opponents they hadn’t beat before this season. Pagosa beat Sheridan 57-24, and although many points resulted from forfeits, Hernandez pulled out a big win at 195. Also during the Sheridan dual, Mills at 132 and Tanner Schlom at 113 both pinned their opponents, at 3:03 and 5:22, respectively.
The Pirates will face tough competition from Monte Vista again tonight during a dual meet in Monte Vista starting at 6 p.m.
“We’ll be the underdogs once again,” said Janowsky of the upcoming dual.
The Pagosa team will also compete in another individual, double-elimination tournament this weekend, the Alamosa Invitational. Janowsky explained that he hopes the team will build on momentum gained this past weekend and compete fiercely against tough opponents from 12 different schools.
“It will be a great test,” said Janowsky.