After two days of tough regional competition in Colorado Springs, six Pirate wrestlers have advanced to the 3A state tournament being held at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
A line up of 11 Pirate wrestlers traveled to the regional tournament to compete for a spot at the state tournament last Friday and Saturday. Out of these 11 competitors,
six placed first, second, third or fourth in their weight class and have advanced to state level competition — nine out of the 11 placed.
Based on team scores, Centauri won the regional tournament, sending eight wrestlers to state.
Head coach Dan Janowsky explained that
he didn’t bring competitors to fill the 106 and 113 pound weight classes and that, unfortunately, Chris Archuleta at 138 was unable to attend regionals due to injury.
According to Janowsky, 3A region 4 is the toughest region in the state to participate in, making the regional tournament very competitive. The two out of the 11 Pirates that didn’t place at regionals were senior
Dylan Lindberg at 126 and sophomore Conor Bjork at 152 who, according to Janowsky, wrestled at very difficult weights.
Sophomores Tanner Schlom at 120 and Jaden Hinger at 220 both placed sixth and juniors Austin Courtney and Chase Patane both placed fourth at 145 and 182 respectively. Fourth place means
qualification for state unless a fifth-place contender has the chance to wrestle for that spot. This happens in the event that the two competitors have yet to meet at the tournament. Unfortunately, both Courtney and Patane lost matches to fifth-place contenders, with Patane losing a heartbreaking overtime match against a Monte Vista opponent. Due to technicality, Courtney advanced to state, while Patane did not.
Both senior Micheal Mills at 132 and junior David McRee at 170 ended up placing third in their weight class and advancing to state. Janowsky relayed how these placements were hard-fought and resulted from tough paths to victory following close losses in the semifinals. These losses required both Mills and McRee to wrestle back up to fight for third-place positions.
“They both had momentum in those (the semifinal) matches with only a little time left,” said Janowsky, “but we ended up giving up points.”
After these disappointing losses, both Mills and McRee had to wrestle two additional matches in order to compete for third place. According to Janowsky, both worked hard in these matches, wrestling offensively and with a great deal of poise, winning by large point margins. Janowsky was impressed with how both Mills and McRee performed in these high stakes matches, explaining that a loss in either of the two “wrestle back” matches would have meant the end of the season for the competitors.
“I felt that they both (Mills and McRee) responded well to that pressure,” Janowsky told The SUN. “They demonstrated a great deal of leadership and character. I was very proud of how they responded after the disappointment of losing in the semis.”
Juniors JC Parsons and Alonzo Hernandez both competed well all weekend and ended up placing second in the 160 and 195 weight classes, respectively. Parsons wrestled a number of nice matches, demonstrating solid technique, against good opponents to advance to the finals where he gave up a pin. Similarly, Hernandez exhibited dominance in the matches that got him to the championship round, but gave up a pin to defending state champion Jareb Aziz of Centauri in the first period.
Heavyweight Creede Wylie further exhibited his dominance in the region and displayed his potential to become a 2014 state champion with a 5-0 championship round win against Devin Chacon of Centauri. The first time Wylie wrestled Chacon this season, he pinned him quickly, but, according to Janowsky the match at regionals was a better match for Wylie. Sticking to solid wrestling fundamentals, Wylie got two take- downs and an escape to win 5-0. Wylie is currently ranked first in the state, while Chacon is ranked second.
Discussing the six wrestlers advancing to the state tournament, Janowsky relayed that Mills, Wylie, McRee and Hernandez have been strong competitors all year.
“They really led the team this year, and the way they’ve been going at it all year, I wasn’t entirely surprised about their advancing,” said Janowsky.
Courtney and Parsons on the other hand, began to put more wins together toward the end of the season, asserting their dominance as the regular season came to a close. This, explained Janowsky, is a testament to the hard work of these wrestlers who both dealt with the disappointment of regular-season losses by making adjustments and working to improve their skills.
Although only six Pirate wrestlers will compete at the state level, Janowsky explained that the team came a long way this year after starting the season with only two state qualifiers and no state placers. Freshman and sophomores on the junior varsity team improved greatly, and some younger wrestlers earned varsity experience.
These younger wrestlers worked hard to improve over the course of the season, becoming solid varsity wrestlers by season’s end. These younger wrestlers include Bjork, Schlom, Hinger, Tyler Cowan and Chance McReynolds. Alongside more seasoned varsity wrestlers, these competitors finished the season strong, positioning the Pirates for a good season of wrestling next year.
“We definitely had high expectations for ourselves at the outset of the season,” said Janowsky, “but I’m not sure our opponents expected us to get as far as we did this year.”
According to Janowsky, improvement upon fundamentals added greatly to the success of both the Pirate team and individuals this year, although the greatest benefits will be seen next season.
“I would characterize this as a rebuilding year, and we have built a good solid foundation for the next couple of years that will allow us to accomplish some great things,” said Janowsky. “Despite the positive outlook for next season, it can be sad to think about how seniors like Aaron Yazzie, Lindberg, Tim Shepherdson, Mills and Wylie helped build a foundation for success that they won’t get to experience with their teammates.”
The state tournament begins today, Thursday, Feb. 20, in Denver, and competition will continue through Saturday. It is a double-elimination bracket tournament and those unable to travel to Denver to support the Pirates can access up to date scores online at www.trackwrestling.com. The state tournament is listed under 2014 CHSAA State Championships. To find the tournament, visit the website and click on “browse” in the top menu bar. From there, select “tournaments.” In the search box at the top of the page, type “2014 CHSAA State Championships.”