Cowboys do well at Warrior Classic in Grand Junction | Rio Blanco Herald Times

The Meeker Cowboy wrestling team was back in action Dec. 16 and 17 at the prestigious Warrior Classic. This year the tournament boasted 39 teams from Colorado, Utah and Arizona. The Cowboys won the small school division by 25 points, and finished one point out of second place overall.

The Cowboys won both the small team division and took third overall last weekend at The Warrior Classic. | TIFFANY JEHOREK PHOTO

A pair of second place finishes by Trae Kennedy at 132 pounds and Judd Harvey (215) highlighted the Cowboys strong performance. Abe Maupin (144), Cade Blunt (175) and heavyweight Tanner Musser claimed third place, while Brendan Clatterbaugh (190) finished in fifth place. Although they did not reach the podium Zeek Gianinetti (120), Clay Crawford (138) and Jake Blazon (157) each pinned two of their opponents this weekend. Dillon Hobbs (106) pinned one opponent.

“Reed Goedert (113) won a decision and continues to improve with every match he wrestles,” commented assistant coach Stryker Lane. “Bow Muxlow (126) lost his round match to the eventual opening champion and a hard fought decision in his second match. Connor Blunt lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals and was unable to continue due to illness.”

The Warrior Classic has long been considered one of the toughest in Colorado. It shows where teams stand among serious competition. It is a litmus test that shows what teams need to work on in order to be competitive at high levels. While having a champion is always nice, it can make it difficult to reflect on the team’s necessary areas of improvement.

Judd Harvey took second place at The Warrior Classic. He faced “arguably one of the toughest brackets in the tournament,” according to assistant coach Stryker Lane. | GAYLE ZIMMERMAN PHOTO

The other benefit of not having a champion is it reveals a team’s depth. It is possible to win tournaments with two or three dominant champions and not much else.

“The fact that Meeker performed so well as a team without a champion shows that the Cowboys are, in fact, a team,” said Lane. “The Cowboys have depth, the JV wrestlers put on a strong performance at the Fruita JV tournament.”

Noah LeBlanc (HWT) and Hayden Shults (215) placed first. Aidan Tapia (120) placed second.

Tristan Rollins (138) and Coy Richardson (120) placed fourth. Tanner Goodwin (138) won two matches by fall.

“Holton Harvey (106) and Skylar Browning (113) will continue to improve as they gain mat time,” commented Lane. “As the JV improves and pushes the varsity the entire team will grow stronger.”

“This week was focused on competing hard and growing stronger as a team, but it is still important to recognize some impressive individual performances as well,” Lane began. Kennedy had an impressive semi-finals victory over the current top ranked 3A wrestler. Maupin pinned five opponents including the sixth ranked 3A wrestler. Cade also pinned five opponents including the third ranked 3A wrestler as well as a solid 4-0 victory over the fourth ranked 2A wrestler. Clatterbaugh’s eight match weekend concluded with a convincing 4-1 victory over the second ranked 2A wrestler. Musser picked up two wins, one by pin, over the eighth ranked 5A wrestler.”

Lane wrapped it up with, “In this weekend’s top performance Harvey took second place in arguably the toughest weight class in the tournament. In the quarter finals he defeated the second ranked 5A wrestler. In the semi finals he pinned the third ranked 2A wrestler. While his finals match did not go the way he wanted, a rematch at the Tournament of Champions in Vernal on Jan. 6 and 7 is imminent.”

Harvey’s bracket also contained the number one ranked kids in both 3A and 4A, as well as multiple other ranked opponents that did not make the podium.

The Cowboys now look to a couple weeks of rest and recuperation over the holidays.

The next time they take the mat will be at the Tournament of Champions (TOC) for another two days of brutal competition. The TOC is both a JV tournament and varsity tournament and offers a wrestle back on day two for the varsity competitors that lose on day one.

Fun Facts by Lane

1. The Cowboys pinned 29 opponents this weekend at the Warrior Classic, one less than

Uintah High School who set a new tournament scoring record.

2. Meeker won the small school team title for the first time since 2015.

3. 177 team points is the most points Meeker High School has scored at the Warrior Classic in the TrackWrestling era.

By TIFFANY JEHOREK – Special to the Herald Times

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