Student athlete: Paonia’s Drinkhouse succeeding in classroom, on wrestling mat

Photo by William Woody—Paonia’s James Drinkhouse, white, wrestles Rangley’s Cole Barlow on Saturday afternoon in the 140-pound final match during the Western Slope Class 2A regional tournament at Palisade High School.



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Photo by William Woody—Paonia’s James Drinkhouse, white, wrestles Rangley’s Cole Barlow on Saturday afternoon in the 140-pound final match during the Western Slope Class 2A regional tournament at Palisade High School.

James Drinkhouse was struggling in the classroom and needed a change.

After moving from Parachute, where he attended Grand Valley High School, to Paonia for the 2009-2010 school year, he’s doing better in the classroom and continues to succeed on the wrestling mat.

The senior won his first regional title Saturday with a 5-4 victory over Rangely’s Cole Barlow in the 140-pound final of the Class 2A Western Regional at Palisade High School.

“I didn’t wrestle my best,” Drinkhouse said. “I was pretty tired. I thought I would have to go to overtime. It pumped me up to get the point.”

Drinkhouse, ranked first in Class 2A, was one of four regional champions and 12 state qualifiers for the Eagles, who won the team title with 224 points.

“We were rebuilding again this year; it seems like we’re always rebuilding, but we seem to find a way,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “We get kids in the room and fill the holes and as the year goes on we improve and that’s all we can ask for.

“We knew the two on the bubble, my (103)-pounder, a kid that never wrestled before (this season) Garrett Park, wrestled tough. I was proud of him, he almost got a win and a wrestleback. My 215-pounder didn’t qualify but he wrestled tough. He had to beat the same four that qualified last year.”

Rangely took second with 200 points, Hayden was third with 153 and Dove Creek was fourth with 107.

Soroco’s Lauren Bruggink qualified for the second consecutive year, but this time she’ll be joined by another girl, Cody Pfau of Meeker. Bruggink pinned Pfau in 2:02 in the 103-pound third-place match.

“It was definitely way cool,” Bruggink said of wrestling another girl. “When you step on the mat, it’s just another opponent. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s the same weight.

“I’m going to the state tournament to win. Everybody’s goal at regionals is to make it to state and be a state champion.”

Pfau’s goal was to qualify for state.

“I knew I beat some and lost to some of these kids,” Pfau said. “My goal is to win one match, to be the first girl to win one match.”

Paonia’s other regional champions were Preston Bonine (125), Justin Smith (160) and KC Martin (171).

Bonine defeated Tray Sickels of Nucla 9-2.

“Coming back, I had to pretty much start from scratch,” Bonine said. “I had to go back to my old ways, which were definitely better with what moves to use. Billings had a different style. It took a little while to get going again. I didn’t know if I was going to pull through, but to win the region is what I wanted.”

Smith won another regional title, pinning Seth Knob of Nucla in 1:18.

Martin beat Norwood’s Ethan Alexander for the title for the second consecutive year.

“He’s one of the toughest kids in Colorado,” Martin said.

Martin not only beat the top seed, he pinned him in 1:11.

In another upset, Hayden’s 135-pounder Nick Williams overcame a 9-4 deficit and pinned top seed Seth Gabardi of Norwood in 2:18.

Top-ranked Travis Witherell pinned his way to the 152-pound title. He pinned Hayden’s Koleman Williams in 1:56 in the final.



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