The Pirate wrestling team returns to action tonight, then dives into a heavy-duty, two-day schedule as it returns home to host two tournaments in as many days.
Tonight, the Pirates travel across the pass to Monte Vista to fight the first Intermountain League dual meet of the season (the IML title is decided on the basis of a series of dual meets).
Monte should provide a stern test for the Pirates. Monte Vista is, in a way, one year removed from a situation similar to what Pagosa faces this season: as a young team with tremendous potential and little experience.
“They (Monte) had a good, young team last year,” said Pirate coach Dan Janowsky. “Now they have the same team with a year’s maturity and knowledge under the belts. They’ll be tough. They had two kids in the finals at the Warrior (December’s Warrior Classic, in Grand Junction), so they’ve got some talent.”
Friday evening, the team returns to the high school gym to host the Rocky Mountain Duals. This year, the Pirates will battle it out in dual meet format with Widefield (Colorado Springs, 5A), Air Academy (5A), Bloomfield (New Mexico 4A) and Espanola Valley (New Mexico 3A).
While a schedule has not yet been decided (wrestlers are allowed only so many matches in a regular season) it is probable the Pirates will fight at least two duals and possibly three.
“It’s going to be stiff competition for us,” said Janowsky. Those bigger schools usually bring full lineups, with mature kids. Widefield, Air Academy and Bloomfield should all be in contention for the team title the next day.”
The next day being the annual Rocky Mountain Invitational at the PSHS gym.
This year, 18 teams will be in town for the action, with the above mentioned teams joined by notables such as Monte Vista, Centauri and Bayfield from the IML; Durango (with a team that did well at the recent Warrior Classic), Monticello, Utah and Aztec, N.M. (currently experiencing a resurgence in a storied program history).
“It’s going to be a real good field,” said the coach. “I don’t know if there’s a super team that will walk away with it; there are a lot of teams that were mid pack last season that have improved a lot. We are going to have to wrestle hard to compete. It’s a good tournament where we wrestle to eighth place, so most kids get quite a few matches. Plus, as always, it serves to show us where we are and what we need to do to get ready for the regional tournament that is just about a month away.”
Pagosa is likely to field a nearly complete roster this week; the problem will be to determine which wrestler goes at what weight.
The big factor: the vacation-induced lapse in conditioning and preparation.
“We held it through vacation, overall,” said Janowsky, “with pretty good attendance (at voluntary practices allowed by CHSAA). We spent a lot of time on things we will see in January. We did technical work and saved the hard conditioning for the second half of last week. But, during the vacation, it’s hard to duplicate the intensity in the practice room on the regular schedule and it’s hard to control eating habits. We’ll probably start off with guys at weights other than where they’ll eventually be. It takes about a week to get the excess off them, and I don’t like to rush it. Our lineup won’t be finalized, by any means.”
The dual at Monte Vista begins at 6 p.m.
The Rocky Mountain duals start at 5 p.m.
The Rocky Mountain Invitation begins Saturday at 10 a.m.