MEEKER | Although the lessons are hard, some argue one learns more from a loss than a win. In wrestling, many life lessons are learned during the annual Colorado State Wrestling Championships—also known as the “Big Show.” Meeker wrestlers are no exception.
The Meeker wrestling program is one of the best in Colorado in any classification, having won eight team state championships and crowned 60 individual state champions, the third most of any school in the state.
But Meeker has also finished second as a team in the state tournament 14 times and had wrestlers finish as state runners-up 38 times after losing in the championship finals. This year’s chapter added another one.
Meeker qualified seven wrestlers for the Big Show and two returned with medals, both seniors. Tannen Kennedy finished second in the 145-pound bracket and classmate James Amick placed fifth at 195.
Earlier this year, Kennedy became Meeker’s “winningest” wrestler, finishing his four-year high school career with 151 wins and three state medals, including two silver.
“Tannen had a great career and worked as hard as any kid I have ever coached,” Meeker head coach J.C. Watt said. “The loss will sting for a little while but it doesn’t overshadow all the hard work he has put in, it will serve him well. Determined, focused and hardworking are all good traits to have.”
Via Messenger, Kennedy said he started wrestling when he was in kindergarten and moved to Denver when he was in eighth grade to live with his dad, where he could wrestle more. That is when he started to improve “by leaps and bounds.”
“Meeker has a very historic wrestling program and even though I wrestled a lot more matches than others, it is because my freshman and sophomore years, I usually lost in the first round and would have to wrestle back,” Kennedy said.
“I believe we have the best coaches in the state, I truly believe that,” Kennedy wrote. “With the addition of Dr. Grant, I have been very excited, as he has helped me tremendously with my mental focus in practice and in matches, with the constant thinking of ‘keep scoring, not winning’.”
“That being said, I have lost two state final matches because I let my emotions get to me, I have gotten overly excited two years in a row,” Kennedy continued. “Junior year, I suicided a cradle (something I hadn’t done all year) and got pinned. My senior year, I was up 5-1 but had been holding my breath the whole time because I was so nervous. But then I just shut down and lost myself mentally.”
Kennedy lost 9-11 in the state championship match.
“I still have a lot of hurdles to overcoming my nerves on those big stages, as I believe I have let my nerves overtake me mentally and cost me two state titles now,” Kennedy wrote. “I have the most supportive teammates around, I couldn’t be happier. They are some of my biggest supporters. I have made bonds with some of them, I hope to never lose because I believe I can trust them with anything.”
Amick also had a good high school career, qualifying for and placing in the Colorado State Wrestling Championships twice. He placed sixth as a junior and fifth this year. He too, has learned much from wrestling.
“This year’s wrestling had its ups and downs but I am happy it ended on a good note,” Amick wrote about winning his last high school wrestling match to earn a fifth place medal. “Being fifth in the state is not a bad way to go out. Wrestling has taught me how to push through adversity and sometimes the chips won’t fall in your favor, but hey, that’s life.”
“James had a lot of fun and has been a lot of fun to coach,” coach Watt said. “With James, he always had a chance, he took the eventual state champion down to the wire and lost 13-11.”
Cowboy freshman Ty Goedert (106), along with juniors Dax Sheridan (152), Colby Clatterbaugh (170), Kesston Hobbs (182) and Ridge Williams (220), all gained valuable state wrestling experience and will provide the team nucleus for next year.
“With five qualifiers returning and a lot of others looking forward to summer wrestling, we should have good numbers again next year,” coach Watt said.
Of the team’s experience at state, he said, “Ty wrestled hard like he always does, he was undersized but he had a great experience and it will help him going forward.”
Sheridan had one of the most exciting matches of the tournament for the Cowboys, down 3-16, going into the final period, he pinned his opponent to win the match.
“Dax had a great experience and learned to keep battling,” coach Watt said.
“Colby lost his match to place, with locked hands at the end,” coach Watt said. “He improved a ton, was one round from placing and always has a good attitude.”
Watt said Hobbs also “wrestled hard and improved,” all season. “Kesston has another year and this experience will help him,” Watt said.
Williams won two more matches at the state tournament this year after coming back from injury.
“Ridge was hampered a little with his injury at state but did a great job coming back from it,” coach Watt said. “This is the second time Ridge has been one match away from placing, hopefully he builds on that and he continues to improve.”
Watt was assisted by Tyrell Turner, Carl Padilla and Dr. Trevor Grant.
“Our coaches did a great job this year of preparing our kids,” coach Watt said of his coaching staff. “Every kid improved and learned a lot this year.”
By Bobby Gutierrez | Special to the Herald Times