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Cowboy wrestlers are ‘ready to break out’
Cowboys want to improve on last season’s disappointing finish
Trayton Liboldt attempts to escape from Johnny Avina during the recent Blue and Gold Wrestle Offs. Both wrestlers are expected to make it to the state tournament.
December 04, 2012
After an outstanding start to the 2011-2012 wrestling season, the performance level tailed off towards the end of the year and finished in disappointing fashion for the Cowboys.
Although the Crook County Cowboys earned a fourth-place trophy at state that left a bitter taste in a lot of wrestlers mouths.
“We haven’t been happy with the way the seasons have ended and we are ready to break out,” head coach Jake Huffman said.
In order to change how the season finishes the team has changed it’s focus this year.
“I think that last year we got too hung up on team goals,” Huffman said. “So our motto this year is that the team goal will take care of itself. Our job is to take care of ourselves as individuals. If we all do that the team goal will take care of itself.”
Huffman was quick to add that although the program has de-emphasized team goals many of the wrestlers in the program have set high individual goals.
“We have some kids who have set some pretty high goals,” he said. “This year we are talking about what can we do to make ourselves better, and what can we do to become better wrestlers and better people?”
So far Huffman is pleased with how the season is progressing.
The team is young, with many of the top wrestlers only sophomores or freshmen. However, the team wrestled hard at its annual wrestle-offs and practice has been going smoothly. In addition, the team has good numbers and a lot of experience.
“We’ve got great numbers and lots of experienced kids,” Huffman said. “Even though a lot of them are young, they are experienced. They have spent a lot of time in the mat club and at the middle school.”
Not only do the Cowboys have a lot of young talent, they return six wrestlers who placed at last year’s state tournament. In addition, Huffman is pleased with the effort that he has seen so far in practice.
“We are seeing good effort,” he said. “But it’s not just dumb effort. It’s effort where kids are trying to get better and they are trying to pinpoint whatever they are weak at. Then, as coaches, we are trying to individualize our instruction and make sure that we are giving everybody what they need.”
Huffman is also pleased with the coaching staff. Last year, Mike Shinkle moved up from the middle school program. This year, Clay Woodward, who has coached for years in the mat club, is also helping at the high school.
Huffman noted that not only adds continuity from the youth program all the way through high school, it improves communication between the various programs. He is confident that will keep the program strong for years to come.
“Our chemistry is great as a coaching staff,” he said. “From top to bottom, I feel like there is a lot of communication and I feel like the goals are all set and the philosophy is the same from the top down.”
Wrestlers to watch for this year include Colbran Meeker, who finished second at state last year as a freshman. Trayton Libolt, Brendan Harke, Alex Urrea, Dean Smith, and Jason Williams also scored points at last year’s state tournament. Gunnar Crawford, who wrestled for Bend Senior High last year, also has state tournament experience, as do Grayson Munn, Trevor Rasmussen, Dawson Barber, Johnny Avina, Brad Howard, Ryder Shinkle, Clark Woodward, Curtis Crouch, and Gunnar Robirts.
Several other wrestlers, including a number of freshmen, are also expected to challenge for berths at this year’s state tournament.
The team opened their season this past Saturday at the Central Oregon Officials Tournament, where they had a solid outing. However, Huffman said that he will know a lot more about how the team is doing following this weekend’s Coast Classic, which will be held Friday and Saturday in North Bend. No matter what happens at North Bend, that won’t be enough for Huffman.
“We’ve got to continue to get better,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to push ourselves to the point where we’re improving and not just maintaining.”