Rebounding from a string of injuries and illness that plagued their team during January, Pagosa wrestlers hosted the regional tournament Friday and Saturday and posted good results — qualifying six athletes for this week’s Class 3A state tourney at The Pepsi Center in Denver and finishing fourth in the team standings behind Alamosa, Florence and Bayfield.
Senior Dakota Miller took top honors at 135 pounds, winning all three of his regional matches in strong fashion.
Miller opened with a pin of Mitchell Vanderpool of Monte Vista, the win coming at 3 minutes, 6 seconds.
In his semifinal match, Miller pinned Chris Reveles of Alamosa at 3:48.
The tournament championship went to Miller with a 12-7 decision over Jason Buhr, of Centauri.
Miller (31-5) opens his state tournament schedule with a match Thursday against Frank Ruelas (14-14) of Rifle.
Will Appenzeller took second place at 140.
The Pirate began by pinning Noah Eurioste of Dolores Huerta at 2:57.
A win by fall at 2:45 over Joey Magno of Florence put Appenzeller in the finals where he lost to Pablo Ortiz, of Alamosa.
Appenzeller fights Brendon Martinez (28-6) of Olathe in first-round action Thursday at Denver.
Pirate sophomore Koby Close will make the trip to Denver on the basis of two wins, and second place, at 171.
Close started his regional tournament with a 19-4 technical fall against Nate Titcomb, of Manitou Springs.
In his semifinal match, Close decisioned Jon Roberts of Bayfield 7-5.
A loss to Centauri’s Jeremy Smith gave Close (19-9) second place in the regional standings and he will face Gunnison junior Jesse Duft (9-11) Thursday.
Ty Lovato will make the trip to Denver at 189.
The junior pinned Angelo Rascon, of Trinidad, at 1:01 before dropping to the consolation bracket with a loss to James Brown, of Florence.
Lovato rebounded with two wins to secure the trip to The Pepsi Center. The Pirate got a tech fall against Colin Williams of Bayfield and pinned Alamosa’s Nick Jones at 2:45.
Lovato (22-10) faces Berthoud junior Casey Couch (23-3) on Thursday.
Senior Preston Sandoval won two of his regional matches to emerge second in the bracket at 215.
Each of Sandoval’s wins came on a pin. The Pirate defeated Ben Grossman of Florence at 2:28, then pinned Isaac Medina of Monte Vista at 4:59. Sandoval lost his match in the finals to Justin Salazar, of Alamosa.
Sandoval (27-11) will begin state tournament action against Jeremy Ruiz of Gunnison (21-17).
Freshman Creede Wylie will get a taste of the big time when he represents the Pirates at 285. Wylie was 1-1 at the regional tourney, pinning Matt Eckstein of Bayfield at 1:38 and losing to Jeremiah Gaitan of Alamosa. Wylie (7-7) squares off Thursday against Olathe junior Casey Childs (27-10).
Other Pirates won matches and scored team points for Pagosa without advancing to Denver.
Silas Thompson decisioned Hayden Straus of Manitou Springs 7-2 at 119.
Dalton Gregory, 125, pinned Shane Wilson of Centauri. Danny Shahan got a win at 145 — a 4-0 decision over Cameron Shablo of Bayfield.
Keith Archuleta pinned Neil Mahon of Colorado Springs Christian in a bout at 152.
Coach Dan Janowsky noted the Pirates’ achievements — as individuals and as team — at the regional tournament. “It was the best performance we’ve had all year, across the board. We struggled through January with injuries, illness and eligibility problems; we never had the same lineup we might have otherwise had. But, the kids we put together for this tournament wrestled hard; they handled the pressure really well. In fact, it seemed they didn’t notice any pressure.”
Janowsky pointed to two particular rounds of the tourney that were critical for his team. “In the semifinals and the consolation quarterfinals, we won nine of ten matches with everything on the line. The guys in quarterfinal matches need to win, or they’re gone. You don’t have a lot of rounds like that. Our guys rose to the occasion.”
Now, it’s on to Denver for the action at The Pepsi Center.
“I think we have some guys who can be there for the Parade of Champions on Saturday night,” said the coach. “We’re going to score some points. All but one of our guys have close to or more than twenty wins. We’ve just never been able to collect all our guys in one team at one time. These guys are all very capable.”