Area wrestlers compete at Vernal tournament

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RBC | With open gyms and tournaments in other states, RBC club wrestlers participated in the Tournament of Champions (TOC) in Vernal, Utah, last Saturday. The TOC has been known to be one of the toughest tournaments in the area. This year the tournament was divided into varsity, junior varsity and girls tournaments located in one facility.

MHS senior Dax Sheridan. | GAYLE ZIMMERMAN PHOTO

The varsity club from Meeker included Ty Goedert at 120 lbs., Connor Blunt (145), Trinden Powell (152), Kelton Turner (160), Brendan Clatterbaugh (170), Dax Sheridan (182), Colby Clatterbaugh (195), Judd Harvey (220) and Tanner Musser (285). Wrestling JV for Meeker were Coy Richardson (113), Owen Hanneman (120), Tanner Godwin (120), Abe Maupin (126), Jake Blazon (132), Kaden Franklin (138), Teagan Sheridan (170), Tate Kerchal (220), Noah LeBlanc (220), and Hayden Shults (220). No girls traveled and wrestled for these meets.

Rangely varsity wrestlers included Zane Varner (152), AJ Garner (182), Jaxon Torsell (195) and Byron Mackey (285).

RHS senior AJ Garner. | TIFFANY JEHOREK PHOTO

The official wrestling season, which should have started just after football ended, was pushed back due to COVID to begin on Jan. 4. Then, at the direction of the governor’s office and Colorado Department of Public Health, the Colorado High School Activities Association moved the start to Jan. 25. After public outcry, they changed it again. The first official day of practice will be Jan. 18 and first duals on Jan. 29.

The entire season, which will only be five weeks of the regular season, will look much different than in years past. There will only be duals; each team is only allowed 20 duals, 20 each for varsity and JV. Only two teams are allowed in the gym at a time. Schools with two gyms can have quads and tris instead of just duals as the teams can remain separated. At the time of announcement the Denver area was in level orange for COVID and all public spectator information and the number of kids allowed in the gym stemmed from this information. The bulletin, which was expected from CHSAA by the end of last week, still had not been released as of Tuesday this week. Details are still fluid and information on total numbers allowed in the gym is unreliable until this information is published.

The dual format poses issues for smaller schools. Teams that cannot fill the majority of the weights will have a hard time finding opponents that are willing to wrestle as so many of the kids will have the potential to not have a match. If only one team has a participant in a particular weight, that wrestler will receive an automatic win via forfeit. At the end of the season, these wins could potentially improve the rankings, which will be necessary to participate in regionals. Only the top eight wrestlers from each class will go to regionals. Regionals are tentatively scheduled for March 5-6, but each class will wrestle separately and only for one day. The top two wrestlers from each weight class will move on to the state tournament which is scheduled for March 12-13, but again each class will only wrestle for one day.

The official schedule is not available, but the first tentative dual for Meeker is in Rifle: a quad with Rifle, Delta, and Eagle Valley on Friday, Jan. 29.

Meeker coach JC Watt said, “The boys wrestled hard this weekend. They looked good for pre-season competition and are only going to get better.” Practice officially starts Jan. 18.

At the TOC, Clatterbaugh placed second, Turner third, and Musser sixth. For JV Maupin placed fourth, Blazon third, Franklin third, Sheridan placed fourth, LeBlanc placed second and Shults placed fourth.

MHS senior Colby Clatterbaugh. | TIFFANY JEHOREK PHOTO

Results for Rangely wrestlers at the TOC were not available as of press time.

Returning seniors include Clatterbaugh, who placed second at the state tournament last year, and Sheridan who returned to state for the second time in 2020. For the 2021 season Trae Kennedy, Musser, Blunt, and Goedert are also returning state qualifiers.

The 2021 coaches on Watt’s team are Carl Padilla, Tyrell Turner, Kurt Blunt, Trevor Grant, Justin Grant, and new to the coaching staff for 2021 is Stryker Lane.