Area wrestlers gain match experience at Ganado Multiple

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

GANADO, Ariz., December 13, 2012

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(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)

TOP: Ryan Smith of Valley High gets ready to roll over Ganado's Zhealan Tso for a pin in their 170-pound match during the Ganado Multiple on Dec. 7.
SECOND FROM TOP: Ganado's Levyne Curley works on the arm of Kody White of Chinle in their 145-pound match at the Ganado Multiple held at the Pavilion on Dec. 7.

I n wrestling, pinning your opponents is the best feeling in the world.

At the recent Ganado Multiple, that became the norm as most matches did not go the distance.

"We either pin or we got pinned," Valley coach Adam Hagen said. "That's how we've been operating, but we need to not get pinned."

The Pirates brought seven wrestlers to the multiple and were looking for individual results rather than team scores. Due to their numbers, the Pirates wrestled with Shonto Prep to field a team.

"As a team we only lost two matches," Hagen said before their final match against Wingate. "I am excited about that and this was good for some of our younger kids to come and get some matches under their belts."

At the recent Pat Kenny Invite in Holbrook two weeks ago, the Pirates placed tenth as a team headed by the third-place finish from Ryan Smith in the 170-pound category.

"We won four medals so we did real well," Hagen said.

The Pirates also got a fourth-place effort from Shimeno Speen (195-pound), fifth-place finish from Darnell Eskeets (120-pound) and a sixth-place effort from Alec Kee (132-pound).

Wingate, which fielded eight wrestlers on Friday, went 1-2 before its last dual against the Valley/Shonto Prep team.

"I have only one experienced guy," Wingate coach Chris Begay said.

That individual happens to be Joseph Harvey. Last year Harvey placed fourth in the heavy weight division, but this year he'll be competing in the 220-pound class.

Begay did say Valley transfer Quenton James has some experience and he's expecting good things from his 126-pound wrestler.

As for his other wrestlers, this meet was a "confidence builder."

"Ninety percent of these guys have never wrestled," Begay said. "The only wrestling they've seen is the one you see on TV where the jump off the ropes."

"This is a lot of different," he added. "The kids got to learn."

Perhaps, the highlight of the dual came in the 120-pound category when Ganado's Jin Chong won his match, 25-23, against Wingate.

"It was like a football score," Ganado coach Jim Dowse said. "There was no real discipline by either guy, but there was a lot of action and we finally got the takedown."

With 11 wrestlers filling in 14 weight classes, the Hornets won all of its matches based on team scores, including a 42-24 win over Chinle.

Individually, Dominique Peshlakai (138-pound), Layne Curley (145-pound) and Jeremy Wauneka (160-pound) won all of theirs matches.

"We have some experience in the middle weights," Dowse said. "Those guys have wrestled a lot, so we expect those guys to go out and give us a good effort every time."

"I just went out there hard and wrestled," said Curley, who qualified for state in the new format last season. "I am trying to keep up my stamina."

This year the format has changed with each division adding an extra section.

"Instead of 16 teams in our sections, we are going to have 12 with top four kids going to state," Dowse said. "That is going to help our kids get qualified, so I am hoping to take four or five this year."

Chinle is expected to benefit with that new format, but on Friday head coach Ken Sanford was looking for match experience.

"I am glad to got some mat time," Sanford said. "We were supposed to go to Coconino and that got cancelled and this is our only match this week. This is the best way for them to learn. To practice and wrestle against somebody else."

Sanford expects heavyweight Josh Smith to make state again and he's hoping to get Wesley Towne qualified in the 152-pound weight class.

Shonto Prep, which teamed up with Valley, brought half of their squad to Ganado with Cody Johnson (126-pound), Pierson Dewakuku (113-pound) and Brandon Curley (145-pound) having the most success.

"We have 10 certified wrestlers, but we only brought five," Shonto Prep coach Steve Zientek said. "We are hoping to bring all of them to Monument Valley's meet (this week)."

Zientek said it was hard to build a team score in Ganado, so he was looking individual efforts.

"Primarily we want everyone to improve," he said. "One of the ways that we are gauging that improvement is how long we're in the match. We are starting to get some of the guys wrestling into the second period."

Many Farms was another team that was shorthanded, but according to it coach Ambrose Yazzie they won most of the matches.

"This is a good start," Yazzie said. "I am hoping to have at least three of four guys getting qualified for state."

The Lobos were paced by Waylon Begay, who finished with a perfect 4-0 in the 120-pound category. Monte Teller (135-pound) and Ethan Tso (152-pound) won five matches between them with Teller going 3-0.

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