Despite missing two of its three returning state champions, the Camp Verde Cowboys wrestling team finished a close third at its Verde Duals wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7 in the CVHS gymnasium.
Four individual Cowboys wrestlers were crowned tournament champions including freshman Hayden Uhler at 113 pounds, sophomore Matt Mejia at 120 pounds, senior Isaiah McReynolds at 145 pounds and senior Jeremy McEachern at 170 pounds.
Verrado High School won the team championship with 490.5 points while Payson finished second with 472 points Camp Verde, third, 451.5; Bradshaw Mountain, fourth, 305.5; Higley, fifth, 280; Tuba City, sixth, 250; Copper Canyon, seventh, 258; All-Star, eighth, 186; Canyon State Academy, ninth, 173.5; Shonto Prep, 10th, 128; River Valley, 11th, 121; and Antelope, 12th, 90.
State champions, sophomore Alex Casillas and junior Ryan Allred missed the meet due to injury, but Mejia, who won his state championship at 106 pounds last season, was so dominant at his new weight of 120 pounds that he won every match by pin.
In the championship match, Mejia pinned Payson’s Dylan Keeney in less than one minute, and was later voted as the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
As a result of adding extra muscle in the offseason, which precluded his moving up two weight classes, Mejia is now wrestling against competitors he’s never faced before. He said the opponents he wrestled in the tournament were “pretty good,” but said he knows he’ll face tougher competition this season.
“It’s a good stepping stone to get warmed up for state, but there’s definitely some harder opponents,” he said “I’m undefeated so far, but my [opponents] are definitely stronger than when I was at 106, but I got stronger too.”
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Dec. 11, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.