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Pirate wrestlers will face seasoned competitors from Alamosa this coming Saturday after having had a break from mandatory practices during the holidays.
Due to CHSAA regulations, the team is unable to have mandatory practices during winter break, although voluntary practices are being held to get wrestlers ready to compete against the defending 3A state champions the Alamosa Mean Moose. Head coach Dan Janowsky told The SUN that, despite it being the holidays, a good number of wrestlers have come out to voluntary practices including a majority of the varsity wrestlers. During practices this week, Janowsky plans to ramp things up, getting ready for the second half of the season.
“This is where it really starts to get interesting,” said Janowsky. “We’re going to face a lot of good Intermountain League (IML) teams in January.”
The upcoming dual meet against Alamosa will challenge the Pirates. Winning matches this weekend will require mental toughness and discipline — two things the team has been working on this season.
The IML is considered a highly competitive wrestling league in the 3A division, with many state championships won by wrestlers and teams from the region. Alamosa, Centauri and Monte Vista, all IML schools, are currently ranked as three of the top ten 3A wrestling teams in the state — the league also includes Bayfield and Pagosa. In the next six weeks leading up to regionals, the Pagosa team will face other IML teams and be challenged to maintain discipline and focus.
Janowsky explained that, as the competition heats up before regionals, the team needs to develop a more solid and set lineup of wrestlers. The competitors chosen to wrestle at specified weights over the next few weeks will likely be those representing the Pagosa team in their weight class at regionals.
“It’s time to get things set and see who’s really going to step up, earn their spot, and put in the work,” said Janowsky. “As playoffs approach we need to get our lineup off the paper and onto the mat.”
Janowsky explained that the first few weeks in January will be the time for younger wrestlers to work hard and fill varsity spots that still need to be occupied. Wrestlers that are committed, focused and working hard will earn available spots and compete at regionals.
Pagosa wrestlers will have to focus on technique, fitness, style and mental toughness over the next few weeks as they face fierce IML competitors. Challenging matches will give wrestlers the experience they need to compete well at regionals if they are able to learn from mistakes and wrestle using practiced techniques. The match this weekend against Alamosa will be the team’s first chance to practice these skills during the second half of the season.
“There are many ways to wrestle, and Alamosa wrestles different than us,” said Janowsky. “The key to winning matches, even against athletically more advanced opponents, is to force your style of wrestling on them.”
Janowsky told The SUN that Alamosa High School’s hall of fame wrestling coach Gary Ramstetter has done a good job teaching his wrestlers to force their unique style of wrestling on opponents. This weekend, the Pirates will challenge themselves both to win matches and portions of matches, wrestling according to their own style and training. Janowsky explained that even if a wrestler loses a match, small successes during competition are crucial both to building confidence and mental discipline.
“We work on knowing what positions we want to be in and wrestle out of at practice,” said Janowksy. “The challenge is doing those things when you’re tired and down on the score board, but that’s when you improve.”
If Pirate wrestlers are able to focus this weekend, they will have a better chance of winning matches against Alamosa. In order to do this, competitors will need to stay in practiced positions, recognize when they get out of position, and work to get back in. Pagosa wrestlers will also have to be aware of the strengths of Alamosa competitors and work to keep them from gaining advantages by comfortably demonstrating their wrestling style on the mat. Adequate conditioning and stamina will also play a role at the upcoming meet, especially after the holiday break.
“We have outstanding wrestlers, we just need a few more to step up and get ready to really compete during the second half of the season,” said Janowsky. “Confidence and maturity are difficult things to capture in a growing athlete.”
Come cheer on the Pirates this Saturday, Jan. 4, when they face the Alamosa Mean Moose in a dual meet at home. Junior varsity wrestling is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., with varsity competition to follow.