Cowboys drop two duals, take fourth at league tournament

MEEKER — It was a tough week for the Meeker High School wrestling team and after losing big to Moffat County and Rifle, the Cowboys competed in the Northwest League tournament, where they finished fourth as a team.
“Thursday and Friday we got the chance to wrestle some tough kids,” head coach Joe Gutierrez said about the dual in Craig last Thursday and the home match against the No. 6 ranked Rifle Bears, both 4A schools. “I told the kids, those duals don’t mean anything. We need to learn from them and start focusing on what we need to work on against kids in our division.”
The dual against Moffat County might have meant something to Gutierrez, as he would be coaching against his mentor and older brother Roman. The older Gutierrez, who was graduated from Meeker High School, has been coaching the Bulldogs for 27 years and last Saturday he became the most-winning dual meet coach in the state of Colorado, getting his 377th dual meet win. Meeker was Roman Gutierrez’s 374th dual meet win.
In the past, the dual between Meeker and Moffat County was always exciting but in the first face off of brother coaches, the older brother won easily, losing only two matches of six wrestled.
“I just wish we had more kids,” the younger Gutierrez said.
“It’s going to be two-to-three years down the road before they are able to compete with us,” the elder Gutierrez said of Meeker’s team. “They will lose a lot to graduation, then hopefully get some more kids out next year but they’ll still be young. Hopefully in a couple of years it will go back to the good old days but they just have too many holes right now. Joe is steering them in the right direction though.”
Seniors Aaron Webster and Jared Doll were the only Cowboys to win against the Bulldogs and after giving up 42 points in forfeits, Meeker lost 11-63.
Against the Bears, it was even worse, as freshman Justin Hardy, filling in for an injured Pat Love at 152 pinned his opponent, for the Cowboys’ only varsity win. Classmate Collin Cochran also got a pin in a JV match at 171.
Seniors Clint Sampson (130), Doll (135) and Webster (189) all made it to the finals in the league tournament but all finished second.
“We still can’t win a gold medal,” Joe Gutierrez said of not having crowned a champion yet this season.
Senior Matt Moody (112) finished third, as did freshman Christopher Ruckman in the 171-pound bracket, while freshman Ean Barrow (119) and junior Patrick Love (152) both finished fourth in the Northwest League tournament.
The Cowboys wrestled against rival Rangely on Tuesday, winning three matches, with the Panthers, ranked fifth in 2A, winning seven. Altamont, Utah, canceled because of weather.
Winners for Meeker were Barrow at 119, Ruckman at 171 and Webster at 215.
The Cowboys will wrestle in Hayden this Saturday.