MEEKER | For the first time, the regional wrestling tournament was held inside the Montrose County Events Center, wrestled on five mats, featuring 10 teams from 2A and 3A, with the top four wrestlers qualifying in each of the 14 weights advance to the 2019 Colorado State Wrestling Championships, where all classifications will wrestle inside the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver.
“What a great facility,” Meeker head coach J.C. Watt said of the Montrose County Event Center, which easily held five mats with plenty of room for fans and wrestlers. “We wrestled our own tournament but it had to have been great for the fans to watch both 2A and 3A wrestlers.
The Cowboys finished third as a team behind champion Paonia and runner-up Hotchkiss, while placing 10 of their 13 wrestlers in the top six and qualifying seven for the Big Show, including two regional champions.
“We’re happy with seven, it’s a good number,” coach Watt said. “We are leaving a couple of kids home I thought might have made it but we wrestle in a tough region.”
Tannen Kennedy won the 145-pound bracket for a second year and Ridge Williams became a regional champ for the first time, while qualifying for the state tournament a second time.
“Tannen dominated again,” coach Watt said. “He continues to work hard and wrestle well.”
Kennedy, currently ranked number one at 145, recently became Meeker’s all-time winningest wrestler but he has a goal of becoming a state champion, which he hopes to accomplish this weekend.
“Part of the deal is learning how to deal with the pressure and we are getting better at it but we will prepare for this tournament, like we have for all of the others.”
Williams was injured shortly after returning from Christmas break and jumped back into the line-up for the regional tournament, which he won for the first time.
“Ridge came back from injury, wrestled well and stayed healthy,” coach Watt said of the junior.
Meeker junior Colby Clatterbaugh also wrestled in the regional championship match but finished as a runner-up to Soroco’s Jace Logan, who is a three-time state runner-up.
“Colby wrestled well and beat a tough kid from Hotchkiss in the semifinals,” Watt said. “He’s wrestling strong.”
Meeker senior James Amick, who earned a sixth place medal last year at state, placed third in the regional tournament, punching his second ticket to the Big Show.
“James had a great experience at state last year and should be able to draw from that,” Watt said.
Meeker freshman Ty Goedert, was also a consolation champion in the regional tournament and will make his state tournament debut in the 106-pound bracket.
“Ty wrestled great and has been improving all year,” Watt said. “He works hard and it’s good to see his hard work paying off.”
The final two Cowboys to qualify were juniors Dax Sheridan (152) and Kesston Hobbs (182), both finishing fourth in their respective weights.
“Dax has improved a ton this year, he works hard and he earned his first trip to state,” coach Watt said.
“Kesston had to beat a tough kid from Paonia to earn his first trip.”
Charles Curry finished fifth in the 126-pound bracket, while Trinden Powell (138) and Reese Harvey (285) both finished sixth.
“Charles lost a close match to qualify and Trinden was in the toughest weight in the tournament,” Coach Watt said. “Reese improved as a first-year wrestler and got some regional experience this year.”
Meeker freshman Kaleb Nielson (113) and Tyson Portwood each won a match in their respective weights and senior Brayden Woodard had what Watt called a “bad tournament.”
“Brayden works hard but just had a bad tournament,” coach Watt said. “He worked hard all year, was a good leader and he always has a good attitude.”
The Cowboys are not ranked in the top 10 as a team but Watt believes all of his wrestlers have a “shot” at placing this weekend at state.
“We come from a tough region and if you’re fortunate enough to get out of our region and get to state, you have a good shot of placing, if you wrestle a good tournament,” he said.
Wrestling starts today in the Pepsi Center at 2 p.m.
By Bobby Gutierrez | Special to the Herald Times