The wrestling season is a war of attrition, and the Paonia grapplers are battling through the final part of the campaign.
The state tournament in Denver is two weeks away and Paonia has several individuals who are rounding into top form.
RF 40, Paonia 24
The Eagles got a look at the No. 1 team in 2A at the Kortney Lake Duals last Friday at Center High School. Facing the team that snapped Paonia's 3-year state title run last year, the Eagles battled but came up just short against Rocky Ford.
It was a close dual that featured several competitive matches. Paonia freshman Sackett Ches-nik won at 126 pounds in a 4-2 decision.
Bo Pipher continued his undefeated run through the 145-pound class, pinning Rocky Ford's Diego Reyes in the first period of their dual. Pipher will seek his third individual state championship in Denver.
Tim Helmer (182) and Cyrus Malek-Madani (220) won by forfeit for Paonia and Trevor Smith recorded an 8-3 decision win over Greg Garcia at heavyweight.
But it wouldn't be enough, as Rocky Ford showed the depth and consistency that won it the title last year. The two teams will see each other again soon.
PHS 57, MVHS 24
The Eagles followed the tough dual defeat, their first of the season, with a big win over Monte Vista.
Eli Etter (106 pounds), Sackett Chesnik (126), Gabe Ferguson (132), Colton Coe (138), Bo Pipher (145), Jesse Burns (160), Jeramiah Hillman (170), Jaden Miller (182), Cyrus Malek-Madani (195), and Trevor Smith (220) all posted wins for Paonia in the dual.
Bo Pipher won the individual title at 145 pounds at the Valley Classic on Saturday.
Trevor Smith got to the finals of the 220 weight class and fell to a familiar foe. Keegan Wentz of Buena Vista, who quarterbacked Buena Vista to the 2A state football championship over Paonia in November, pinned Smith to win the title. Paonia is at Delta on Thursday.