MEEKER I “We are still improving,” Cowboy wrestling coach J.C. Watt said after his team wrestled in the competitive Screamin’ Eagle tournament in Paonia on Saturday, less than one month before the 2016 Colorado State Wrestling Championships.
Meeker placed 10 of 12 varsity wrestlers in the top four, including three champions and finished second as a team in a tournament that Coach Watt called a “preview” of the upcoming, state-qualifying regional tournament.
The Screamin’ Eagle featured five of the top six 2A teams in the state, in a field of 21 teams overall, and Meeker, currently ranked No. 3 by On the Mat Rankings, finished second behind No. 5 Hotchkiss and ahead of No. 2 Centauri.
The Cowboys wrestled dual meets against Hotchkiss and Norwood/Nucla, currently ranked No. 4, the night before the tournament in Hotchkiss, and Meeker won both duals.
The Cowboys carried the momentum into the tournament, where they advanced eight of 12 wrestlers into the semifinals and, from there, four into the championship match.
Meeker junior Casey Turner (24-3) won the 152-pound bracket with three pins and a 4-2 decision in the championship match.
Three-time state champion T.J. Shelton (26-0) pinned his first two opponents and won 21-5 in the semifinals before winning by forfeit in the championship match in the 170-pound bracket.
Cowboy senior Devon Pontine (24-3) dominated the 182-pound bracket, pinning his way into the championship match, where he won 10-5.
Sheridan Harvey (23-5) dropped down a weight class for the first time this season and pinned his way into the finals, where he finished second in the 120-pound bracket.
Junior Tyler Ilgen (21-8) lost his first match to a 4A-Montrose wrestler then came back with two pins and an overtime win to finish third at 185.
Sophomore Jacob Pelloni (106), freshman Tannen Kennedy (126), Hunter Garcia (145), Chase Rule (160) and Caleb Bradford (195) all finished fourth in their respective brackets.
Garrett Frantz won two matches in the 132-pound bracket but did not place, nor did Ty Gibson, who wrestled in the 138-pound bracket.
Junior Varsity wrestlers Kasey Rosendahl (120), Charlie Day (126) and Christopher Strate (126) were also entered but did not place.
The Cowboys will travel to Buena Vista today for a dual meet and the junior varsity wrestlers will enter a tournament in Grand Junction on Saturday.
The Cowboys will host a tournament on Feb. 6, the final week of the regular season.