The regular season is over.
Let the new season begin.
Pirate wrestlers finished off the regular season schedule with two dual meets last week. The young Pagosa squad went down in defeat on both occasions, but there were positive signs.
And those signs point to Friday and Saturday, to the regional tournament at Dolores Huerta High School in Pueblo.
It has been a difficult year for the Pirates and closing the schedule with Alamosa (ranked No. 1 in Colorado Class 3A) and Bloomfield, N.M. (a perennially strong 4A program) provided no respite for a Pagosa team plagued by injury and restrained by a general lack of experience.
Pagosa lost the dual meet to Alamosa 69-12 and dropped the contest Bloomfield 39-32.
On the surface, a defeat. Scratch the surface, though, and things are better than they seem at first glance.
“We had a lot of good efforts,” said Coach Dan Janowsky of his young charges and their efforts against Alamosa. “We got a significant amount of mat time, and we didn’t give anything to them.”
According to the coach, the team (still missing Cassidy DeYapp, Morgan Shelton and Creede Wylie) set four goals. “And we reached them,” he said.
The first goal was time on the mat. In far too many outings, the action has been over seemingly before it truly begins. “Against Alamosa,” said Janowsky, “some of our guys hung in there and made it a match as long as possible.”
The second goal: techniques. “We wanted to force them off their primary moves, and in most cases we did that.”
The third goal: follow through. “Our guys have to keep wrestling,” said the coach. “They need to follow through on their attacks. They did that.”
The final goal: be aggressive. “We wanted to be aggressive on our feet,” said Janowsky. “No steps backward. If we were going to lose, we were going to lose going forward.”
The overall attitude of his wrestlers pleased the coach. “It’s nice to see that turn,” said Janowsky. “It’s easy for kids to throw in the towel, but they made a stand to the end. The match showed that some of the technical and internal things have turned around, and that looks good for the future. ”
Two Pirates came through with stellar performances against the Maroons.
Dalton Gregory avenged a prior loss to Chris Reveles at 126 pounds. Gregory pinned Reveles at the 2:30 mark of the match last Thursday.
“Dalton had lost to this kid at the Alamosa tourney,” said Janowsky. “I was real pleased with Dalton’s pace and hustle; he stayed on him and had a good plan.”
Cody Snow also earned six points with a pin. Snow defeated Sam Marquez at the 1:55 mark of their match at 145 pounds.
“The other guy was surprised,” said the coach. “Cody had some good holds. When he executes consistently, he does well.”
The match the next night against Bloomfield showed the Pirates have the desire necessary to close large differences on the scoreboard and to battle to the end. The match started at 195 pounds and, in no time, Pagosa was behind 24-0.
Cody Kimsey stopped the bleeding with a win at 113 pounds. Kimsey earned a hard-fought 6-5 decision over Troy Rightmire.
“Cody beat the fourth-ranked kid in New Mexico,” said Janowsky. “Cody fought off his back the entire third period, bridging the whole period.”
With another loss, though, the Pirates were down 30-3, halfway through the meet.
“Our guys got going in the right direction at that point” said the coach, “and they closed the gap.”
Gregory got six points with a fall, beating J.D. Robinson.
Silas Thompson pinned Bryan Williams at 132 pounds.
Danny Shahan forged a major decision, 12-4, over Sheldon Begay, at 138.
Snow pinned Alex Portillo at 145.
David McCree got a 6-3 decision over Jerome Abeyta at 170.
Chase Patane worked a major decision, 18-8, against Paul Jaramillo at 182.
“I was concerned about a letdown after the Alamosa match,” said Janowsky, “but we had some great performances. David McCree and Chase Patney got key wins in some real emotional matches, and it turned out to be an exciting dual for the last dual of the season.”
Now, the task is to make sure the emotion, the excitement and the improvements carry over to this week’s regional action.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class this weekend advance to the Class 3A championship tournament next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Pepsi Center, in Denver.
Janowsky indicated Shelton could return for the regional meet and said ,“Though we’ve never had the lineup we anticipated, we could have the best lineup we’ve had all year for the regional tournament.”
Action begins at Dolores Huerta High School at 2 p.m. Friday, with matches through the quarterfinals fought that day. The semifinals begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. The finals will begin 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon.