MEEKER I Nine Meeker High School wrestlers qualified for the “Big Show,” the 2015 Colorado State Wrestling Championships, where all classifications of state high school wrestlers gather to compete in the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, starting today.
The Cowboys finished third as a team in the Region 1 tournament held at Colorado Mesa University. Meeker finished behind runner-up Hotchkiss and champion Paonia.
“The kids performed well,” head coach J.C. Watt said. “Four of them are not going, but all will be returning next year with good experience.”
The Cowboys advanced four wrestlers to the championship match but only Meeker’s two-time defending state champion T.J. Shelton won a gold medal in the 170-pound weight bracket.
Shelton, a junior, will be making his third trip to state and he will try to join the ranks of Keenan Turner, Brandan Stewart and Joe Leblanc, as three-time state champions produced over the years by the Meeker wrestling program.
Meeker senior Tristin Pelloni, a state runner-up last year, advanced to the 120-pound championship match but was defeated by Talon Harris of Norwood, the same wrestler Pelloni lost to in the state championship match last year.
Casey Turner injured his knee in the semifinals and he did not wrestle in the championship match at 152, but he is expected to compete in the state tournament. Meeker sophomore Tyler Ilgen was the other Cowboy to advance to the finals, finishing second in the 285-pound bracket.
Sophomore Sheridan Harvey (113), junior Devon Pontine (182) along with seniors Kylloe Goedert (126) and Anthony Watt (145) all qualified as consolation champions in their respective brackets and all will be making their second trip. Pontine was a state runner-up last year. Sophomore Chase Rule qualified for his first state tournament, with a fourth-place finish in the 160-pound bracket.
Meeker freshman Jacob Pelloni (106), sophomores Hunter Garcia (138) and Caleb Bradford (195) and junior Nick Burri (132) did not place in the regional tournament.
“The four of them will be returning next year with good experience,” Watt said.
He has high hopes for his wrestlers at state, which starts today at 3 p.m.
“We come out of a tough region and I think all of our wrestlers have a chance to place,” Watt said.