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MEEKER I The Meeker High School Cowboy varsity wrestling team beat the Grand Valley Cardinals 42-22 in a dual meet last Thursday before wrestling in the competitive Screaming Eagle tournament in Paonia last Saturday, where they placed seven wrestlers in the top four.
“I went back and saw where last year we placed one in the top four in Paonia and this year we had seven, so I’m happy with the improvement,” head coach J.C. Watt said of his team’s performance in Paonia. “The kids wrestled well, we are just not used to that level of competition.”
The competition included the host Paonia Eagles, the defending 2A state champions and currently ranked No. 1 by On the Mat Rankings, along with No. 3 ranked Dove Creek. Paonia won the tournament with 270 points, Dove Creek finished second with 168, Center was third with 146 and Meeker finished fourth with 141 points.
Meeker sophomore Tristin Pelloni lost his first match of the season 3-13 to Josh Altman of Paonia in the 113-pound championship match. Pelloni was the only Cowboy to advance to the finals.
Meeker’s J.C. Henderson (132), Devon Pontine (152) and T.J. Shelton (160) all finished as consolation champs in their respective weights.
“J.C. showed a lot of heart by coming back for third,” Watt said of the junior. “Devon lost 10-11 on a last second takedown and T.J. Lost by two to a good Paonia kid.”
Aaron Cochran (126) and Anthony Watt (138) both wrestled in the consolation championship and both finished fourth. Cowboy senior J.R. Crawford (170), also finished fourth but had to forfeit in the consolation championship because he had already wrestled five matches, the most allowed in one day.
“J.R. pinned the other four kids he wrestled,” Watt said.
Pelloni, Kylloe Goedert (120), Watt and Dillon Frantz (145) all won matches against Grand Valley opponents.
The Cowboys will host the 3A Moffat County Bulldogs this Friday starting at 6 p.m. in one of two home meets this season, then wrestle duals in Coal Ridge this Saturday. Meeker will wrestle Paonia Feb. 8 and host five teams Feb. 9 in the final duals before the regional tournament.
“This is the mentally tough part of the season,” Watt said. “We have a lot of hard workouts.”