Battle-tested Paonia gets returning champ Reed back
Paonia High School has proven it can contend for another state title.
The Class 2A’s No. 1-ranked Eagles (6-1) rebounded from an opening-dual loss to win a dual tournament, the Delta Invitational, and the Warrior Classic over several other schools more than 10 times their size.
“That loss to Fruita in the first dual was the best thing for us,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “It made the kids realize they are not last year’s (state champion) team. They have to make their own way.”
Paonia has done it without its lone returning individual state champion, Jesse Reed.
Now, Reed is back after missing the first month of the season with an undisclosed injury, and the Eagles are ready for more tests beginning with Class 5A Grand Junction at 7 p.m. Friday at Grand Junction.
Reed will wrestle at 120 pounds after beating out freshman Bo Pipher for the spot in practice last week. Pipher will wrestle at 126.
Josh Altman, who won the Warrior Classic 113-pound title, is going down to 106 pounds this week, Andy Pipher said.
The Panthers (4-3) are making a few changes to their roster to start the second half of the season.
Returning state qualifier Shane Anderson hurt his tailbone working over the break and is questionable for Thursday’s home dual against Rifle at 7 p.m.
When Anderson does return, he plans to go down to 126 pounds, Delta coach Clayton Curtis said. Ty Cordova will move up to 132.
Senior Alfredo Rosales is back after missing the first month of the season with injuries. He will wrestle at 170 pounds.
The Cardinals are still missing some wrestlers in some weights, but the wrestlers coach Rick Gallegos has are doing well.
“We’ve already proven we’ll mix it up (with the opponent),” Gallegos said. “At the Warrior (Classic), we were in (the team race), but we didn’t seal the deal. We need to improve on that.”
Will Hinkle has shown potential and should play a big role the rest of the season along with 106-pound senior Cody Pfau.
Just about anything that can happen has happened to the Hotchkiss wrestling team.
“It will be rough the next couple weekends,” Bulldogs coach Glenn Suppes said. “We’ve had one kid with an abscessed tooth and another with a concussion.”
The Bulldogs, who have holes at two weight classes, lost their lone returning state placer before the season started when Conner Beard injured his shoulder in football.
Returning state qualifiers Garrett Toothaker, Dustin Head, Joe Boyle and Zack Taylor are relatively healthy, but they may wrestle in a different weight class.
Hotchkiss wrestles Thursday at Cedaredge and Saturday at the Eagle Valley Invitational.
The young Indians had a rough start to the season and are looking to improve before regionals and state.
“We’re a pretty young team,” coach Neal Samples said. “We have a lot of learning to do. We need leaders to step up and push themselves.”
Senior Marcus Velasquez is coming off a Warrior Classic title.
The Indians host Pueblo West in a dual Friday night before hosting the annual Indian Invitational on Saturday.
The Pirates (1-9) have taken some lumps this season.
Olathe usually has a full roster for the Warrior Classic, but coach Tee Jay Rose held out some younger, inexperienced wrestlers this time.
“Everybody is young, but they are progressing well,” Rose said. “Some are juniors that haven’t wrestled since middle school. Most of them wrestled JV matches before Christmas. Now, they will get to travel.”
Olathe will use the next three weeks to focus on improving before the Western Slope League Duals tournament, Rose said.
Coach John Wisniewski is putting two freshmen in varsity spots this weekend and may have some of the heavier wrestlers move down a weight class he said.
He won’t have move-in Blake Mastrud in the lineup yet. He is still out with a dislocated elbow, Wisniewski said.