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In wrestling, the battle is everything.
Win or lose, how you fight the battle tells you everything you need to know: what you need to work on, what your prospects are the next time the battle is joined.
Following two dual meet losses last week — one to Monte Vista on Thursday, the other to Durango, on Friday — Pirate wrestlers and their coach, Dan Janowsky, were not looking at a particularly bright picture.
Was the team not on track to develop as predicted, had the team’s potential been misread?
Against Monte Vista, the Pirates went with a lineup different in some respects than at preceding events, and they fell to the visitors, 44-30. Three Pirates not regularly in the rotation took to the mat — two of them freshmen (Liam O’Brien at 120 and Tyler Cowan at 132) and one a junior (Dylan Lindberg at 113). While all three lost their matches, the move forced the opponents to earn their points.
“We didn’t have older guys at those weights,” said the coach. “I told these guys we would forfeit, and they wanted to get out there. I’m proud of them for doing it; it takes nerve for the younger kids to do that.”
Janowsky indicated the team could have won the dual with Monte had a few things gone differently: the team was missing a veteran, Dalton Gregory, at 132, and a match at 152 won by the Pirates at the Rocky Mountain Invitational went to Monte Vista.
“Every match in a dual is critical,” said the coach. “One upset and you get major points and a swing in momentum. This time, they got it.”
Micheal Mills won his match at 138, with a 6-3 decision.
Keith Archuleta earned max team points, pinning his man at 145.
Morgan Shelton earned an 8-4 decision at 182.
Durango put on a show for their fans Friday, beating Pagosa 51-22.
Shelton took a win with a major decision at 182. The remainder of the Pirates’ points came on Demon forfeits.
“Durango has a good team,” said Janowsky. “They have some good kids at key weights and they wrestled well in front of their home crowd.
“We thought we would do better in those two duals,” said Janowsky. “I was concerned, and so were the kids.”
Not so following a Saturday trip to the San Luis Valley, where the team competed in what is arguably one of the toughest regular season tournaments — the Alamosa Invitational.
The Pirates took fifth in a field of 10 teams, placing behind the winner, Piedra Vista, Mesa Ridge, Alamosa and Thunder Ridge.
Two Pirates finished in second place at Alamosa.
Gregory was 2-1 at 132, getting points with a pin and an 11-6 decision.
Creede Wylie placed second at 285, going 2-1 and scoring with two pins.
Alonzo Hernandez (2-2) was fourth at 220, getting the wins with falls.
Shelton (2-2) was fourth at 170, both of his wins coming on pins.
Chase Purcell (2-2) took fourth at 160, with two falls.
Chris Archuleta placed fourth at 126, getting a win with a 15-0 technical fall.
Keith Archuleta won one match at 145, Cody Snow got a win at 152, David McRee logged one victory at 182.
“A lot changed on Saturday,” said the coach. “It was a tough tournament. We had six kids place; they wrestled better and were much more focused. When it was over, we were back to thinking that we can accomplish what we initially figured.”
Noting that his team finished better than it had the week before when it hosted the Rocky Mountain Invitational, Janowsky also pointed out that no Pirate advanced beyond the semifinal round at the home tourney. At Alamosa, Gregory and Wylie were in the finals.
“And, in many of the matches we didn’t win at Alamosa, we were a lot closer,” said Janowsky. “We have some simple things we need to correct, things like keeping your feet moving. That was the difference a few times, in a close match, in the third period.”
The results of work on those simple things will be tested tonight as the Pirates host perennial foe and Intermountain League rival Bayfield in a dual meet — the final home action of the season.
“It’s always a fun, intense match with this IML rivalry,” said Janowsky. “They beat us at our tournament and we want to prove that we’ve improved since then.”
Action starts tonight at 6 p.m. at the high school gym.