Tough competition for the Pirate wrestlers continues, as do the team’s lineup woes.
Wrestling for the second straight weekend without a full varsity squad, the Pagosa Springs High School wrestling team again tried to shuffle its lineup, but again fell short against opponents who would be formidable even when faced with an ideal varsity squad.
Head Coach Dan Janowsky estimated that about 60 percent of the team’s normal varsity lineup was in tact when the Pirates welcomed the Bayfield Wolverines, champions of the Rocky Mountain Invitational, for the Pirates’ final home dual of the regular season.
Despite a 48-27 loss to the Wolverines, several Pirates wrestlers showed promise and recorded wins.
After the Pirates forfeited or lost in the first three weight classes, Dalton Gregory recorded a win in 3:22 over Drake Rhodes in the 125-pound class.
“That was a good win for us because the kid he wrestles there, they kind of go back and forth,” Janowsky said.
Dakota Miller also recorded a win for the Pirates in the 140-pound class, gaining a fall over Michael Dupree in 2:59.
Rounding out the wins on the day for the Pirates, Ty Lobato won a 7-5 decision over Colin Williams in the 189-pound class, and Preston Sandoval defeated Matt Cerdas in the 215-pound class in 39 seconds.
Additionally on the day, Will Appenzeller moved up a weight class in a strategic move that allowed the Pirates to pick up a forfeit in the 145 class (by moving JV wrestler Cassidy DeYapp into the class). The move then allowed Appenzeller to face an athlete Janowsky called Bayfield’s best wrestler, who defeated Appenzeller by a fall.
“You have to find people that are better than you and test your skills against them,” Janowsky said of pitting Appenzeller against Aaron Velasquez, adding, “He’s not afraid to lose; he wants to get better.”
Overall on the day, Janowsky said there was little variation from the normal outcome of Pagosa-Bayfield duals.
“Few wrestled their opponents better than last time,” Janowsky said.
The Pirate wrestlers then headed over Wolf Creek Pass Saturday to take part in the 12-team Alamosa Tournament.
“Saturday in Alamosa was a long, tough day for us,” Janowsky said, adding that the tournament was filled with formidable teams.
The Pirates placed 12th on the day.
“We’re just in that state right now where some of our guys are ready for that, but most of them aren’t,” Janowsky said.
Despite their last-place finish, two individuals brought home fourth-place finishes.
In the 135-pound class for the first time, Miller went 4-1 on the day before defaulting to fourth place after meeting the four-match limit on the day.
In his quest for fourth, Miller beat ThunderRidge’s Michael Scheining in 2:44, lost a 12-6 decision to Fountain-Fort Carson’s Cody McGraw, defeated Alamosa’s Chris Reveles 15-6, and won a 3-1 decision over Air Academy High School’s Derek Law.
Koby Close also took fourth with three wins in the 171-pound class — a fall over Alamosa’s Zachary Staggs in 3:45, a fall over Piedra Vista’s Mark Palmer in 1:22 and a 6-1 decision over Mesa Ridge’s James Garrett. Close lost an 8-4 decision to Rocky Ford’s William Lutz.
Will Appenzeller also looked to be making a run for a championship when he fell prey to a shoulder injury.
According to Janowsky, Appenzeller was “wrestling the best match I’ve seen him wrestle” and had a 5-2 lead when he suffered the injury, but continued to wrestle and, overall on the day, won two matches — one over Canon City’s Joey Stringer in 3:52 and one over Payson’s Ben Lee in 4:43.
Appenzeller defaulted the remainder of the tournament due to the injury.
Preston Sandoval also tallied three wins on the day — one over ThunderRidge’s Cody Drake in 2:07, a win over Fountain-Fort Carson’s Matt Howard in 3:54 and a fall over Air Academy’s Brian Gelston in 2:12.
Despite landing at the bottom of the pack score-wise, Janowsky chooses to look at the glass half full and see that Pagosa almost had two champions.
“You have to acknowledge your mistakes, but, at the same time, you have to acknowledge that you’re closing in on what you want,” he said.
Pagosa will find no reprieve from formidable competition as their schedule continues tonight.
Pagosa travels to La Jara tonight to face Centauri High School, the number-two ranked team in the state (behind Alamosa).
Additionally, lineup challenges are still on the plate for the Pirates with the likely absence of Appenzeller and more JV wrestlers seeing varsity action.
“I feel very good about our foundation right now for future years, but I don’t want to live in the future,” Janowsky said of young wrestlers gaining varsity experience, adding, “...When we lose, we hurt. We want to win now.”