The wrestling team at Paonia High School came out of the Christmas break determined to post some pins and wins.
The Eagles provided both as Paonia won two duals and placed several strong individual finishes in a tournament this past week.
Eagles 42, Bulldogs 30
Head coach Andy Pipher returned to his alma mater last Thursday night, leading the Eagles against Hotchkiss.
Pipher and his brothers won individual state titles for the Bulldogs, but after 17 years coaching in Paonia, he doesn't get sentimental in Hotchkiss.
"It's one community," Pipher said. "It's Hotchkiss and it's Paonia and it's a rivalry but most of these kids, people on both sides, they work together every day. Sure, both communities want to win but when it's over, to me it's over. Nah, I don't have any feelings for here."
The Eagles got pins from Bo Pipher (152 pounds), Trevor Smith (220), Gabe Ferguson (113) and Clay Campbell (138) to hold off their rivals and secure a dual victory over the Bulldogs.
"Those were all huge wins," Pipher said. "You've got to have pins, and you can't give up pins. We gave up a lot of pins and they got to fight a little harder in those spots and we know it. They'll keep improving. It was a really good dual."
Paonia's Anthony Felice won at an open 145 pounds, Pipher pinned the Bulldogs' Kayden Owens at 152, then the Eagles' Nick Brewer was pinned by Wade Katzdorn in the 160-pound match and Paonia led 12-6.
Jeramiah Hillman, added to the Paonia roster over the Christmas break, fell to Hotchkiss junior Kale Litzelman in a 7-2 decision at 170 pounds. Paonia picked up six more points when Tim Helmer won at an open 182 pounds.
At 195, Paonia's Jaden Miller won a 3-0 decision Curtis, and the Eagles led the match 21-9.
Smith's pin came at 220 pounds against Joe Nault, then Paonia heavyweight Luis Chavez was pinned by his Bulldogs counterpart, Connor Collins, and the match score was 27-15.
Paonia's Eli Etter was pinned by the Bulldogs' Sergio Campos at 106, then Paonia's Gabe Ferguson got the momentum back for the Eagles after he pinned the Bulldogs' Presley Pene in the 113-pound match.
"I'm grateful to wrestle any match," Ferguson said. "I just went out there and wrestled tough. I knew we needed the pin so I did what I could to get it. They're our biggest rival. Probably the biggest dual for us."
Paonia's Caden Meilner lost a decision at 120 and the Eagles' Garrett Beck was pinned at 126, bringing the match score as close as it would get all night at 33-30.
But Paonia secured the win when Sackett Chesnik won a 2-0 decision at 132 and Campbell recorded his pin in the final match of the night at 138 pounds.
"I thought they looked just fine," Pipher said. "We're a little rusty in spots but I thought their health was better after the Christmas break. They didn't feel so beat up. I think we have a lot of work to do, but it looks to me like they feel a lot healthier."
Eagles 66, Bruins 18
Paonia came right back the next night with a dominant dual win at home over Cedaredge.
The Eagles started out with pins in six of the first seven matches.
Eli Etter (106 pounds), Gabe Ferguson (113), Caden Meilner (120), Sackett Chesnik (132), Clay Campbell (138) and Bo Pipher (145) all pinned their Bruins opponents.
Garrett Beck posted a 14-5 major decision win at 126 pounds and Paonia led 40-0 in the match.
Paonia's Anthony Felice (152) and Nick Brewer (160) won decisions, then Cedaredge got on the board when the Bruins' Zach Anderson pinned Jeramiah Hillman at 170 pounds.
Tré LaBossiere continued his strong season for Cedaredge with a win at 195 pounds, being patient and getting a pin in the second round in his match against Paonia's Cyrus Malek-Madani.
"I just wrestled my match," LaBossiere said. "Go out there and do what I practice hard to do every day. Feeling good, I have a lot of kids in the room that really push me and work hard with me. I think we all look good, we just need to clean up a few things and we'll all be there in the end."
Paonia wrapped up the win with pins by Jaden Miller at 182 pounds and by Trevor Smith at 220. The Eagles left the heavyweight division open and Mario Madaleno won for Cedaredge to provide the final margin.
"That was a great win, all the way up and down the lineup," Pipher said. "I thought after the big win last night it could have gone either way. It would have been easy for them to be flat tonight, but I thought they stepped up and wrestled hard, and it was a great win."
Paonia finished out the week strong and placed third at the Indian Invitational last Saturday in Montrose.
Bo Pipher (145 pounds), Jaden Miller (182) and Trevor Smith (heavyweight) each won individual titles for Paonia, which finished behind Berthoud and Olathe in the 12-team tournament.
Paonia is scheduled to be at the Rocky Mountain Duals, which is set for Saturday.