Hardy wins Hotchkiss tournament

MEEKER I Only five Cowboys wrestled in the opening tournament in Hotchkiss last Saturday and four won matches, including a championship for junior Justin Hardy.
“We went in with three freshmen,” head wrestling coach Joe Gutierrez said. “I think they were a little scared and didn’t wrestle the way they should have at first but by the end, I was really proud of how they came together.”
The Cowboys are not the only team with few numbers, a round-robin (everyone within the bracket wrestles each other) format was used because eight-man brackets could not be filled.
Hardy won all of his matches and the title at 160.
“Justin is my first champion,” Gutierrez, starting his third year as head coach, said of Hardy’s accomplishment. “We’ve had a lot of seconds but no firsts. Justin is stepping up and becoming a good leader. We’ll have to count on the juniors to lead us because we have no seniors. This year’s juniors were freshmen when I started.”
Gutierrez hopes to get juniors Ean Barrow, Collin Cochran and Ethan Overton back in the lineup before the Christmas break.
Freshmen J.C. Henderson won two matches and finished third in the 112-pound bracket and Willis Begaye won a match in the 145-pound bracket. Junior J.R. Crawford won two matches in the 189-pound bracket to finish fourth and freshman Aaron Cochran wrestled with an injured shoulder but did not win a match.
The Cowboys will compete in the Delta Invitational this weekend and host Rangely Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m..
“I think the few we have in the room are ready to start wrestling and making some noise,” Gutierrez said.