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Pirates face Bloomfield tonight, regionals next week

Staff Writer

SUN photo/Randi Pierce Junior Austin Courtney takes down one of Centauri’s state champions, Jason Buhr, in the 145-pound weight class during the Pirate’s home dual against Centauri last Thursday. Courtney lost the match by technical fall, although he wrestled this challenging opponent hard, with intent to win.

SUN photo/Randi Pierce
Junior Austin Courtney takes down one of Centauri’s state champions, Jason Buhr, in the 145-pound weight class during the Pirate’s home dual against Centauri last Thursday. Courtney lost the match by technical fall, although he wrestled this challenging opponent hard, with intent to win.

The Pirate wrestling team fell to a number of tough competitors last week. Losses included a 24-54 team loss to Centauri last Thursday and a number of losses at the Centauri tournament last Saturday.

Despite these team losses, head coach Dan Janowsky says that the ending dual scores don’t tell the whole story. Instead, he explained that wrestling against tough opponents at the end of the season has helped further develop the Pirate’s skills and that many individual wrestlers really stepped up this past week. Additionally, much of the team fell ill with a seasonal flu after the Centauri dual, and were unable to compete at the Centauri tournament.

The dual against No. 3-ranked Centauri last Thursday was tough. According to Janowsky, the team changed some technical strategy that ended up not working out in their favor, including a number of lineup shifts.

Part of these changes were four Pirate competitors who wrestled above their normal weight class against some of the best competitors in the state — senior Micheal Mills wrestled up two weight classes at 145 from his usual 132, junior David McRee competed at 195 instead of his usual 170, junior Alonso Hernandez wrestled at 220 instead of 195 and junior Austin Courtney competed at 152 instead of 145. Both McRee and Courtney wrestled defending state champions.

Janowsky explained that he was impressed with these wrestlers, as well as the rest of the team.

“They volunteered to do it (wrestle up weights),” said Janowsky. “That shows me that they’re getting into the mindset of learning and improving, they want to face challenges rather than taking the easy route. It’s hard enough to ask kids to step out of their comfort zone, but for them to volunteer to wrestle up weights, against a very hard team in front of home fans, that shows the right mentality.”

“I really appreciated the way David (McRee) came and told me, ‘if you want me to wrestle that guy, I’m game,’” said Janowsky.

Overall, Pirate competitors wrestled well during the first half of matches, but started to make mistakes in the second half. According to Janowsky, a combination of fatigue from wrestling at higher weights, the onset of sickness and nerves is likely the culprit.

“Centauri has a lot of good, confident kids looking for ways to win,” said Janowsky. “Regardless, we’ve got to be able to wrestle for six minutes.”

The team has been working on wrestling the back half of the match in practice this week.

In the Centauri dual, McRee wrestled hard, but was pinned in the last 15 seconds of the match. Both sophomore Chance McReynolds at 160 and heavyweight senior Creede Wylie pinned their opponents at 3:13 and 0:24 respectively. Wylie’s win last Thursday was a big win, as he is currently ranked second in the state and his Centauri opponent is ranked third. His pin demonstrated he is a serious contender for a state title this year.

Due to illness and other line up issues, a small Pirate wrestling crew traveled to Centauri to compete in a dual meet tournament last Saturday. Illness caused Janowsky to leave Mills, junior Chris Archuleta and junior Chase Patane at home. As a result, the team forfeited in the 106, 113, 120, 132, 182 and 220 weight classes in each dual.

Due both to these forfeits and point losses, team scores from the Centauri tournament were rough. Despite not performing well as a team, individual wrestlers competed hard and Janowsky believes the individual improvement he saw last weekend will pay off in the end.

In order to fill some weights and expose prepared younger wrestlers to tough competition before regionals, Janowsky took sophomores Liam O’Brien at 138, Tyler Cowan at 145, Connor Bjork at 152 and McReynolds to the Centauri tournament.

Pagosa fell to Olathe 22-60 during the first dual of the day. Despite the point difference, Courtney pinned his opponent at 145, McRee pinned his opponent at 170, Wylie pinned his opponent at 285 and Hernandez won by 13-2 decision.

Next, the Pirates fell to Rocky Ford 24-51. Again, bright spots of the match somewhat overshadowed the ending point differential. Courtney pinned his opponent at 145, junior JC Parsons beat his opponent by 8-2 decision at 160 and McRee pinned his opponent at 1:52 in the 170 weight class.

Photo courtesy Allison Wylie Pagosa sophomore Connor Bjork strains to lift and take down a Florence opponent in the 152-pound weight class at the Centauri tournament last Saturday. The Pirates got a first look at regional opponent Florence at the tournament.

Photo courtesy Allison Wylie
Pagosa sophomore Connor Bjork strains to lift and take down a Florence opponent in the 152-pound weight class at the Centauri tournament last Saturday. The Pirates got a first look at regional opponent Florence at the tournament.

Next, Pagosa faced regional opponent Florence again falling as a team by a score of 23-48. During the meet, Parsons pinned his opponent, McRee won by 4-3 decision over a very tough opponent gaining a big win, Hernandez pinned his opponent, and Bjork won a hard fought match by decision — after being down 0-5, Bjork came back to win 9-7.

“Although we lost that dual, we won some big matches and got a look at the Florence team,” said Janowsky, “overall, it was a positive dual for us.”

The last dual of the day was against Salida, although, due to the number of forfeits from each team, the meet only consisted of three actual matches. Pagosa wrestlers O’Brien and McReynolds fell to their opponents at 138 and 170, while Cowan was victorious at 145. At the end of the meet, Pagosa ended up losing by a team score of 36-42.

“That was a strange meet,” Janowsky said of the Salida dual. “Where we had wrestlers they had vacancies and vice versa.”

Despite the number of team losses last weekend, Janowsky told The SUN that the Pirates got what they were hoping to out of the Centauri event.

Tonight, Pirate wrestlers will compete in their last regular season dual meet at home against Bloomfield starting at 6 p.m.

Pagosa has lost to Bloomfield twice already this season, the first time by 25 points and the second time by 11. Janowsky hopes that the lessening of the score difference of the two previous duals indicates improvement, and both he and the team are looking forward to a final dual against Bloomfield.

“We are hoping to put together a line up of our very best and end the season with a win against a team that has beaten us twice,” said Janowsky.

After the dual tonight, the Pirates will be on their way to the regional tournament at Colorado Springs Christian High School next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14 and 15. Come cheer the Pirates on as they head into the post season.

dana.hayward@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on February 6, 2014.