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MEEKER I Freshman J.C. Henderson and sophomore JR Crawford will be the only Cowboys to wrestle in the 2011 Colorado State Wrestling Championships, which start today in the Pepsi Center in Denver. Eight Cowboys competed in the regional tourney and although six placed in the top six, only two finished in the qualifying top four.
“We were hoping to qualify more,” head coach Joe Gutierrez said. “But looking at the big picture, we took eight, six placed and they are all coming back next year.”
The Cowboys are young, with no seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and four freshmen varsity wrestlers.
Henderson finished fourth in the 112-pound bracket, losing 3-4 to Chris Terpstra of Dove Creek in the consolation championship match. Henderson defeated Terpstra in the first round of the tournament but could not beat him the second time.
Crawford defeated Zach Parker of Dolores, the No. 1 seed, 9-7 in the semifinals but lost 13-2 to Morgan Rieder of Paonia in the championship match.
“JR has been stepping it up all year long,” Gutierrez said. “All the upper weight guys beat on each other in practice and they have come a long way from last year.”
Juniors Justin Hardy (171) and Collin Cochran (215), along with freshman Aaron Cochran (119) all finished fifth.
“Justin has looked good all year but had a bad regional,” Gutierrez said. “Collin bounced from 215 to heavyweight all season, so we need to get him in the weight room and make him a legitimate 215-pounder.
Junior Ethan Overton pinned one opponent and finished sixth. Freshman Willis Begaye (135) was one match away from placing and classmate Kelly Denny (103) has a regional tournament under his belt.
The first round of the state tourney starts today at 3 p.m.