Meeker’s Webster places 8th at Vernal

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MEEKER — “There was a different caliber of wrestler than we’ve seen so far and many of our younger kids have never been to a tournament with more than four mats,” Meeker High School Coach Joe Gutierrez said of the competition at the Tournament of Champions (TOC), in which his team wrestled last weekend in Vernal, Utah.
Gutierrez traveled with 10 wrestlers, filling eight of the 14 varsity weight divisions, led by seniors Matt Moody, Jared Doll, Andrew Lawrence and Aaron Webster. Each Cowboy senior recorded at least one pin in their respective 32-man brackets but only Webster placed in the end.
“Aaron looked good but we have to work on our conditioning,” Gutierrez said.
Webster’s physical conditioning was tested as was his mental conditioning, knowing he would draw the No. 1 seed in the 189-pound bracket in the first match and the long road to the podium after a first-round loss. Webster lost to Nathan Heuer, a defending 3A state champion from defending 3A state champion Roosevelt Roughriders, the defending TOC champion and winner of the Warrior Classic before Christmas break, but Webster came back to pin his next five opponents before losing his final two matches for an eighth place finish.
“In the two matches Aaron lost at the end, we were ahead and wrestling well until we got into the third period,” Gutierrez said. “Christmas break was not good for our conditioning and it showed.”
All but Webster were eliminated from the varsity tournament on Friday but able to schedule matches Saturday for additional mat time.
Lawerence (171) and Doll (135) both won two matches Friday before being eliminated and both also recorded pins Saturday. Moody recored a pin on both days, as did freshman Ean Barrow (119). Freshmen Christopher Ruckman (160) and William Begaye (215) also wrestled in the varsity tournament, as did junior Pat Love (152) but none won any matches. Freshmen Collin Cochran (160) and Ethan Overton (171) also wrestled Saturday.
“I’m pleased with the improvement I’ve seen since the first of the season, especially from our younger guys,” Gutierrez said. “I told them we would get them to Rocky Mountain Nationals this year so they can get exposed to big tournaments and tough competition. We have a lot of work to do but it’s getting to where its fun now.”
The Cowboys will host Glenwood Springs and Fruita JV Friday in a triangular, starting at 5 p.m.