558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Cowboys go undefeated in dual meets, take state championship
Ryder Shinkle is one of 16 Cowboys to place at state this year.
March 11, 2013
The recently completed high school wrestling season was one for the ages.
The Crook County Cowboys finished the year undefeated in dual meets, while winning the Oregon Wrestling Classic, Special District II, and the Class 4A state championship.
“Winning a championship means a great deal,” said head coach Jake Huffman. “This community is so proud of their wrestling program, or at least has pride in past wrestling programs with legendary coaches that have been here, and all the district titles we have won in the past. It feels good to bring a state championship back to Prineville.”
Prior to this year’s championship, the Cowboys had not won a state title since 1975. However, the team was absolutely dominant this year, putting 12 wrestlers into the semifinals, earning two individual championships, and placing 16 wrestlers at the tournament.
“I’ve never heard of anyone placing 16 wrestlers at state,” Huffman said. “Four kids qualifying for state in each weight class instead of three impacts how many we take, but taking them and actually placing, that’s two different things. Sixteen out of 21 that’s pretty good, but if you get that on a spelling test you get a B.”
Huffman added that he was thrilled with the team’s performance at state, but believes that there is still room for improvement.
“We did some things better than we did last year,” he said. “But there are things that I know we can still do better, and that’s exciting to think that not only do we have a great group coming back, but we are going to do things better next year.”
The Cowboys graduate just three of the 21 wrestlers that they took to the state tournament. In addition, the team has a solid group of wrestlers that just missed reaching the state tournament this year. The team also has several more competitive wrestlers that didn’t make it to the district tournament because of the number of quality wrestlers in their weight class.
As a result Huffman is confident that next year’s team can be even stronger.
“People say if it aint broke don’t fix it,” Huffman said. “Well it’s not broke, but it can run a lot better and that’s what we are trying to do is sharpen the tools that we have. I think all great programs have to evaluate themselves and although we had an outstanding year, there is a very long list of things that we can do better. I’m very excited already to start doing some of those things. If you don’t continue to improve you’re going to be a one hit wonder.”
Huffman added that he believes that the success of the program is because of the quality of coaching in the Cowboy Mat Club, the middle school, and the high school, as well as the hard work of the wrestlers.
As a result he believes that the team is now in a situation where they have the potential to stay at the top for several years to come.
“We don’t want this to be a short-term thing,”?he said. “When you win your first state title there’s an opportunity there to build off of it and do something great, or there’s an opportunity to be a flash in the pan and we don’t want to do that. We want to continue to find ways to strengthen the program and continue to build and make this the best program in the state of Oregon.”
In order to accomplish that, Huffman is already in the wrestling room working with kids who are interested in competing in spring tournaments and is working hard to provide wrestlers with chances to get additional mat time.
He added that the coaches need to do a better job of developing wrestlers to their full potential, regardless of what level the athlete is at in the program.
“It starts right now,” he said. “How are we going to make our spring program better? Are we going to get more opportunities for more kids to get in there and work out? How are we going to give kids the opportunities to improve their skills?”
He added that the program is working on improving communications as well as making sure that everyone involved is on the same page.
“It takes our coaches going to clinics,”?he said. “It takes us having one mind with the way we do things and train. It takes finding new ways to motivate kids. We can’t stop. That’s the bottom line.”