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MEEKER I “Highly competitive,” is the level Meeker wrestling coach J.C. Watt wants his team to reach, and although they are not there yet, Watt believes his team continues to “improve.”
The defending state champion Paonia Eagles came to Meeker on Friday and beat the No. 2-ranked Cowboys, 51-17, in front of a full Meeker High School gymnasium. Meeker won four of 12 matches wrestled against the best team in 2A.
“We wrestled OK,” Watt said of his team. “We’re still working up to wrestling at that highly competitive level we are capable of wrestling at.”
Tristin Pelloni (113), Aaron Cochran (132), Casey Turner (145) and T.J. Shelton, who went up a weight to wrestle at 182, won their matches against the Eagles. Pelloni, who dropped a weight class after the Christmas break, was the only Cowboy to win by pin. Cochran won 16-6, Turner won 13-3 and Shelton won 10-6.
The four Cowboy winners against the Eagles won all their matches and were crowned champions in the first annual Vern Rose Memorial wrestling tournament held Saturday in Rangely.
Pelloni, Cochran, Turner and Shelton, along with Sheridan Harvey (106) and Willis Begaye (152) all won championships in their respective weights. Two of the championship matches featured Meeker’s varsity and JV wrestlers competing for the title. Turner defeated Anthony Watt in the 138-pound bracket and Begaye beat Dillon Frantz in the 152-pound championship match.
Devon Pontine (160) also finished as a runner-up, senior J.C. Henderson was a consolation champ, while Sam Lange (126) and Tyler Ilgen (285) finished fourth.
“We wrestled really well in Rangely,” coach Watt said. “It was good to bounce back from the Paonia dual. The kids were more aggressive with the lead and at the end of the periods. We’re improving.”
The Cowboys will wrestle in the Screamin’Eagle tournament in Paonia on Saturday.
“It will be a preview of our regional tournament,” coach Watt said of the upcoming competition.