After competing in six duals this past week, the Pirate wrestling team ended up 3-3. As the season continues to heat up, competitors are striving to sharpen their mental game, maintaining intensity and focus in practice and competition.
Last Thursday, the team traveled to Bayfield to face the Wolverines, whom they hadn’t seen since the very beginning of the season. According to head coach Dan Janowsky, the Bayfield team was hard to evaluate during the dual meet as there were a large number or forfeits — the Wolverines only had six wrestlers in their varsity line up and had to forfeit eight matches.
“Our strength is in our upper weights,” said Janowsky, “and Bayfield had few competitors there.”
A combination of forfeits and hard-fought matches resulted in a 60-22 win for Pagosa over Bayfield. Highlights included senior Micheal Mills at 132 and sophomore Tyler Cowan at 145 both pinning their opponents. Additionally, sophomores Ethan Hunt at 120 and Liam O’Brien at 138 fought hard but ended up losing matches by technical fall to two strong Bayfield competitors.
The team also traveled to Aztec, N.M. last Saturday to face competition from larger New Mexico schools. During the dual meet tournament, the Pirates wrestled five teams and ended up 2-3 for the day. Pagosa did not bring wrestlers to compete in the three lowest weight classes.
First, Pagosa faced the Cleveland Storm, one of the top 5A wrestling teams in New Mexico.
“They were tough and had strong, aggressive kids that came at us,” said Janowsky.
Despite some successes including a pin by senior heavy weight Creede Wylie and 4-3 win by decision from junior Alonso Hernandez at 195, the Cleveland dual was a struggle for Pagosa. The team lost a number of competitive, close matches and also gave up a lot of points in the middle weights. Janowsky explained that, despite losing to Cleveland 9-66, he observed improvement and perseverance from Pagosa competitors.
Next, the Pirates faced Aztec in a more competitive meet. Although the Pirates lost 25-41, matches were close and hard fought, according to Janowsky. Again, the Pirates struggled to win matches in the middle weights, but wrestlers in lower weights and heavier weights excelled during the dual. In the lower weights, Mills won by decision at 132 and Chris Archuleta barely lost in overtime at 138. Dylan Lindberg also remained competitive and active at 126, but lost 9-14.
“He (Lindberg) really was a bright spot in the day,” said Janowsky, “it really helps when team members keep fighting and don’t give up pins.”
Juniors JC Parsons at 160 and David McRee at 170 both won their matches against Aztec competitors. Overall, the team won five matches during the dual, but had many other close contests.
After Aztec, Pagosa faced Los Alamos. Unlike during the first two meets, the Pirates were able to pull out wins in the middle weights, but were unable to score points in the upper weights. The Pirates fell to Los Alamos 24-57.
“That was a match (the Los Alamos meet) I felt like we probably should have won, but we didn’t get the points out of our upper weights that we can usually expect,” explained Janowsky.
According to Janowsky, each of the first three matches in Aztec was tough, fast-paced, physical, combative and highly competitive. Pirate wrestlers had no break in between the duals, so the competition was fierce and exhausting, but that’s what the team was looking to get out of the tournament. The situation experienced in Aztec simulated a high pressure situation in which wrestlers have to perform their best — this will happen at the regional and state tournaments.
After suffering three morning losses, the Pirates defeated Mancos and St. Pius X, 54-18 and 50-24 respectively. Both of the opposing teams had to forfeit at quite a few weights, but, according to Janowsky, Pirate competitors that were able to wrestle, wrestled well.
Overall, the Aztec tournament was a tough contest for Pagosa, but aided in athlete development.
“You have to be prepared for what’s to come when you go out searching for tough opponents,” said Janowsky of the weekend.
Going 3-3 in duals last week, the Pirates got in a lot of hard wrestling and learned what they still need to work on as the regional tournament approaches.
The Pirates will continue working on wrestling from the bottom position as well as executing explosive finishes and take downs. As regionals approaches, the team hopes to maintain fast-paced wrestling, making lots of scoring attempts. Janowsky says he believes the team can accomplish this goal, especially given the high level of fitness the competitors have worked to maintain.
The Pirates still have a number of meets and a tournament before regionals next month. First, the team will take on Centauri tonight at home starting at 6 p.m. The Falcons are currently ranked third in the state and have two state champions and numerous state placers on their team. Although they will be hard to beat, Janowsky says the Pirates look forward to the chance to take them on.
“Don’t count us out,” said Janowsky, “it will definitely be an entertaining sporting event.”
This Saturday, the Pirates will travel to Centauri for their final big dual meet tournament of the season. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., Pagosa wrestlers will face opponents from Olathe, Rocky Ford, Florence and Salida. Although the Pirates have faced Rocky Ford this season, they have not seen competitors from the other schools. Janowsky explained that all of the teams at the Centauri tournament will be sizing up the competition in preparation for the regional and state tournaments.
“We are especially looking forward to getting a look a Florence, a regional opponent for us,” said Janowsky.
The team hopes for five hard-fought duals this coming weekend as they continue to prepare to face fierce competition at regionals and individuals aspire to advance to the 3A state tournament.