Nine Cowboys qualify to defend 2A title in Big Show

The Meeker Cowboys qualified nine wrestlers for the 2017 Colorado State Wrestling Championships where they will begin their quest to repeat as 2A team champions. The Cowboys finished second, one point behind Paonia in the regional tournament. Pictured with the plaque are; Hunter Garcia, Chase Rule, Nick Massey, Jacob Pelloni, Garrett Frantz, Ty Gibson (holding plaque), Tyler Ilgen, Sheridan Harvey and Tannen Kennedy, with Caleb Bradford in front. Not pictured are Phil Sheridan, Cody Nielsen, Casey Turner and Ridge Williams, along with coaches J.C. Watt, Carl Padilla and Tyrel Turner. Bobby Gutierrez Photo

MEEKER | The Cowboys qualified nine wrestlers for the 2017 Colorado State Wrestling Championships, also known as the “Big Show,” as it brings all classifications into the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, and where, starting today, Meeker will begin its quest to defend its 2A team title.
Eight of Meeker’s nine wrestlers have winning experience at the state tournament and it will all be needed as Rocky Ford, who the Cowboys gave second place to last year and who has been ranked No. 1 this season, qualified a wrestler in each of the 14 weight classifications.
“They haven’t given them the state trophy yet,” Meeker head coach said of the challenge his team faces to repeat as champions. “Our experience should help us at the state tournament and returning as the champs is not a disadvantage.”
Meeker and several other teams were in the team race at the state-qualifying Region 1 tournament held last weekend at Colorado Mesa University. The Cowboys, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, and the eventual team champion Paonia, all led at one time during the two-day event but it was Paonia who finished with 201 points, one point more than the Cowboys.
For the first time in several years Meeker had a wrestler in each of the 14 regional brackets and they pushed seven wrestlers into the championship match and two into the consolation championship match of their respective weights.
Meeker senior Sheridan Harvey won his second regional title this year at 138-pounds and he will be the No. 1 seed in the “Big Show” where he placed fifth last year. Harvey pinned all three of his opponents, including Paonia’s Sackett Cheznick (ranked No. 3), who beat Harvey in the Warrior Classic, earlier in the season.
Chase Rule won his first regional title, winning the 182-pound bracket and the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. Rule won 6-2 in the semifinals and then defeated Paonia’s Jaden Miller 11-2 in the championship match.
“Sheridan pinned a kid that beat him earlier and Chase dominated a kid he beat in overtime the last time they wrestled,” coach Watt said of his two regional champs. “They are both wrestling with a lot of confidence.”
Although five Cowboys did not win their championship match, they all won tough matches in the semifinals to advance and they are all wrestling with confidence.
“We are a little disappointed we didn’t have more champs but all of our kids wrestled well and I think they are all peaking at the right time,” coach Watt said.
Jacob Pelloni (113), Tannen Kennedy (126), Casey Turner (170), Caleb Bradford (220) and Tyler Ilgen (285) all wrestled in the championship match of their respective weights, except for defending state champion Turner who injury defaulted and they all finished second. Ilgen lost in sudden death overtime, preventing him from winning a second regional title.
Senior Hunter Garcia will make his second trip to state, winning the consolation championship at 152 and junior Garrett Frantz will make his first trip to the Big Show after placing fourth at 132.
Senior Cody Nielsen (160) and freshman Ridge Williams (195) both placed sixth in their respective weights. Freshmen Phil Sheridan (106) and Nick Massey (120) and senior Ty Gibson (145) did not place.
“We had a lot of parents and fans make the trip to Grand Junction,” coach Watt said. “It’s good to have such great support.”
“They are ready,” coach Watt said.