Olympic champion Cejudo helps Meeker wrestlers kick off a new era

MEEKER — The Cowboy wrestling team will open the 2008-2009 season in Hotchkiss this weekend, under a new head coach, only the fifth in Meeker’s storied program.
In continuation of the program’s story, new head coach Joe Gutierrez arranged for Olympic wrestling champion Henry Cejudo to host a clinic for more than 70 area wrestlers and speak to the community.
“It was a great opportunity for the kids that came, to be able to meet and learn from an Olympic champion,” Gutierrez said. “We wanted to bring in a motivational factor and he did a great job for us.”
Cejudo was the only wrestler on the United States Olympic wrestling team to win a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games held in Bejing, China.
“I just went out there wrestled hard that’s why I won,” Cejudo said of his Olympic matches.
“He could have taken a different path but he chose the goal of being an Olympic champ and at the age of 21, he’s living the American dream,” Gutierrez said. “It was an opportunity not just for the wrestlers but to the community to listen to his story. He’s proof that through hard work, dedication, setting goals on and off the mat and putting your mind to it, what you can accomplish.”
Cejudo won four high school state titles, including two in Colorado, wrestling for Coronado High School his junior and senior years as a resident athlete of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Cejudo shared drills, demonstrated moves, including basic fundamentals, and had them play a game. Then he showed a video of his Olympic highlights and spoke to the wrestlers, before taking time for autographs and photos.
“Henry has an aggressive, hard-nosed style of wrestling, which is how we want to base our program,” Gutierrez said.
The 11 Cowboys will be led by seniors Matt Moody, who placed fourth at the state tournament as a sophomore for Palisade, Jared Doll, Andrew Lawerence and Aaron Webster. Doll was one match away from placing at last year’s state tournament.
“We have a lot of room to grow but the kids that are in the wrestling room have the dedication to make things happen,” Gutierrez said. “I already see improvement in their mindset and their wrestling skills.”
The Cowboys will wrestle dual matches against Cedaridge and Hotchkiss Friday and compete in the Hotchkiss Invitational tournament Saturday.