Cowboys do well at Tournament of Champs | Rio Blanco Herald Times

Clay Crawford going in for a single leg takedown. Crawford took first place in the second chance tournament at the Tournament of Champions in Vernal, Utah, last week. GAYLE ZIMMERMAN PHOTO

MEEKER | After a productive two weeks of training over winter break, the Cowboys returned to the mat in Vernal, Utah at the Uintah Tournament of Champions (TOC). The TOC is considered one of the toughest tournaments in America’s Mountain West region; it features top teams from Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.

“We scored 101 points in an impressive fifth place performance,” began assistant coach Stryker Lane, “including three finals appearances from Connor Blunt at 157 pounds, Judd Harvey (215) and Tanner Musser (285), each finishing in second place, and an eighth place finish from Trae Kennedy (132). Hayden Shults (215) also placed fourth in the varsity tournament.”

Other results from the varsity tournament include Abe Maupin (144) and Clay Crawford (126) picking up a pair of wins each. Bow Muxlow (120) and Cade Blunt (165) came away with one win each. Dillon Hobbs (106), Reed Goedert (113), Tanner Goodwin (138), and Jake Blazon (157).

“All of the boys competed well, but some were unable to pick up a win this weekend in the varsity tournament,” said Lane. “The TOC is an excellent opportunity for all the wrestlers to gain valuable mat time.”

On Saturday the TOC hosts what they call a ‘second chance tournament’ where wrestlers from the varsity and JV tournament who did not make it to the second day of competition are entered into a single elimination tournament.

“The Meeker wrestlers did very well in the second chance tournament crowning two champions, Crawford and Cade,” Lane commented.

While winning the TOC is an impressive accomplishment, it is not the main goal of the season, according to Lane. It is a stepping stone on the way to the state tournament, much like the Warrior Classic and the Top of the Rockies in a couple of weeks. It affords teams the opportunity to wrestle against tough competition, which improves conditioning and reveals areas that need to be improved.

“The impressive thing about the Meeker Wrestling team is the effort from each of the wrestlers every time they step on the mat,” said Lane. “This makes it easy to identify technical areas that need work. It is why Cowboys who step on the mat at the end of the year are significantly better than they were at the beginning of the year.”

“The JV also had a very productive weekend,” commented Lane.

Holton Harvey (106) placed second. Zeek Gianinetti (120) won three matches and Coy Richardson (120) won two. Skylar Browning (113) and Tristan Rollins (138) were each able to win one match.

“Rylan Vierra (120) wrestled hard and gained some valuable experience,” said Lane. “Aidan Tapia (113) sustained an injury in his first match and was unable to continue. We are praying for a speedy recovery. As our JV continues to improve it will help our varsity reach our ultimate team goal. Their contribution to the team is invaluable.”

The middle of the season is a long stretch with three tournaments back to back to back that can be as tough or tougher than the state tournament. Wrestlers who usually win may take some losses. It takes a lot of discipline to stay focused and positive during this stretch. If a wrestler is able to stay tough during this time, it is possible to make more improvement than any other time of the season.

“We are excited to see how much better we can get as we look forward to the Top of the Rockies on January 20 and 21”, Lane commented, “which has been considered the toughest tournament in Colorado”.

Before the Top of the Rockies, the Cowboys have a couple duals on the road against Delta on Thursday, Jan. 12, and Rifle on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

“These duals without a big tournament will provide an opportunity to rest up from the TOC and prepare for the Top of the Rockies,” said Lane.

“This week’s top performer was Musser, who scored 24 team points and made it to the finals for the second year in a row,” said Lane. “He has made significant gains against the Uintah heavyweight who also beat him last year. Learning to wrestle against the biggest and strongest in the heavyweight class will help him significantly at the state tournament.”

fun fact:

1. This weekend the Cowboys increased their team pin total to 136 including varsity and JV; earning 11 varsity pins this weekend.

2. Three finalists are tied for the most Meeker has ever had at the TOC in the tracked wrestling era.

3. Connor has joined the 100 wins club.

By TIFFANY JEHOREK | Special to the Herald Times

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