The Paonia High School wrestling team completed a very busy week after winning three duals and finishing fourth in the Screamin' Eagle Tournament last Saturday.
The No. 6 Eagles got a good look at every 2A team ahead of them except No. 1 Rocky Ford last week and Paonia has reason to think it'll be right there with them at the end of the year.
The Eagles won the 2A state title for three consecutive seasons until last year, when Rocky Ford snapped Paonia's streak in Denver.
Paonia 44, Olathe 31
The Eagles fell behind early in their dual versus the Pirates before rallying to defeat the visitors last Thursday in Paonia.
"I thought we wrestled well," Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. "A couple of matches could have gone either way, and we won the matches that could have gone either way. It was a lot of fun. I think we're improving."
Elias Ramirez got the win at an open 113 pounds, and Olathe's Clay Yarnell won a tough 8-5 decision against Paonia's Caden Meilner as the Pirates opened up an early 9-6 lead in the dual.
Andrew Godfrey's 10-0 major decision over Sackett Chesnik put Olathe ahead 13-6.
Clay Campbell righted the ship for Paonia, winning a hard-fought 6-4 decision over Cody Needham at 138 pounds.
Gabe Ferguson gave the Eagles the lead for good with his 22-6 technical fall over Rosalio Garcia, and Jesse Burns picked up six points for the home team at an open 145 pounds.
Olathe left the 152-pound slot open as well, and Bo Pipher won that class by forfeit.
Jeramiah Hillman won for Paonia by pin at 180, and Trevor Smith also pinned his Pirates' opponent at 220 pounds as the Eagles closed out the dual win.
"Overall I thought they wrestled well," Pipher said. "We're fairly healthy. We've got to work on our conditioning a bit, but I thought the boys wrestled well."
Paonia 51, Centauri 27
The Eagles rallied from a 21-0 deficit to charge back and beat the No. 2 Falcons last Friday night in the Paonia gym.
The turning point came when Paonia freshman Sackett Chesnik recorded a gritty 8-3 decision win over Centauri's Patrick Esparsen, the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the state at 126 pounds. Chesnik's three team points for the win were Paonia's first score in the dual.
Centauri standout Brandon Buhr responded with a pin at 132, but then Paonia reeled off three straight victories by pinfall to even the match.
Gabe Ferguson (138), Bo Pipher (145) and Anthony Felice (152) all pinned their Falcons' opponents and the dual was tied 27-27.
Tim Helmer, Jeramiah Hillman, Cyrus Malek-Madani and Trevor Smith all won by forfeit for Paonia, and the Eagles wrapped up the win with Jaden Miller's pin victory at 182 pounds.
Paonia 51, Sedgwick County 21
In its second dual last Friday night, Paonia got pins from Eli Etter (106), Caden Meilner (120), Sackett Chesnik (126), Trevor Smith (220) and Luis Chavez (heavyweight) and the Eagles rolled to victory.
Bo Pipher (145), Anthony Felice (152) and Jaden Miller (182) all won by forfeit for Paonia.
Paonia completed its busy week at home by finishing fourth (203.5 points) in the tournament it hosts every year.
"This tournament has really built up over the past 10 or 15 years," Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. "We get a lot of really good teams out here. The best teams want to come here and see this competition, but we can only have so many. It's a packed house here today. It's great to see."
This year's tournament had 21 teams and featured five of the six top-ranked 2A squads in the state.
"A lot of our kids are wrestling well right now," Pipher said. "This tournament had good competition, and we're hoping to be right with these guys at the state tournament."
In the grueling tournament where some wrestlers have five matches in one day, Paonia placed three individual champions in Sackett Chesnik (126), Bo Pipher (145) and Trevor Smith (220).
"All of our efforts in the finals were great," Pipher said. "Sackett Chesnik has really improved as a freshman. Bo just dominated, he pinned a kid ranked No. 2 in the state in like 30 seconds, and he won Wrestler of the Meet. And Trevor Smith did a great job staying focused in his match."
Paonia sophomore Jaden Miller finished second at the tournament after he fell to Meeker's outstanding Devon Pontine at 182 pounds.
"Jaden wrestled about as well as I've ever seen," Pipher said. "That Pontine is ranked first in the state, and Jaden battled with him and had him on the ropes there for a while."
Junior Eli Etter (106 pounds) and freshman Anthony Felice (152) recorded strong showings at the tournament and finished third in their weight classes.
"I'm real pleased with where we're at. We keep improving. That's all we can do," Pipher said.
The Eagles are on the road this week in Center for duals on Friday and a tournament on Saturday.