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Montezuma-Cortez Wrestling Club celebrates successful season

Athletes from the Montezuma-Cortez Wrestling Club celebrate with their medals after a competition this past winter. Eighty-five athletes ages 4 through 14 participated in this club this season. (Courtesy of Kimberly Spitzer)
Nineteen wrestlers qualified for state this past winter

CORTEZ – If there’s one surefire way to build a successful program, it begins with generating interest from a young age.

Montezuma-Cortez Wrestling Club head coach Casey Spitzer hopes that formula will continue across the Four Corners following this past season.

For the past five months, the club took its squad – featuring 85 wrestlers ages 4 through 14 – to tournaments along the I-70 corridor to northwest New Mexico and everywhere in between.

“We’re really proud of our kids,” said Spitzer, whose squad was honored during its awards banquet on April 18. “This is a demanding sport that teaches kids a lot about working through adversity and the results of hard work.”

Nineteen wrestlers qualified for state at the elementary and middle school levels, and three of them landed in the top-six in their respective divisions. Casey Kop took fourth in his division, while Dominic Gustamantes and Tyrann Gallegos each placed sixth in their divisions.

The program also boasted five regional champions en route to their state qualification.

Montezuma-Cortez Wrestling Club athlete Tyrann Gallegos celebrates with his trophy from the Aztec Warrior Tournament. (Courtesy of Kimberly Spitzer)

At the Aztec Warrior Tournament earlier this month, Gallegos won the 70-pound division title in the under-7 tournament.

Montzeuma-Cortez wrestling coach Ryan Daves competed in the adult division, and also landed top billing to represent the club.

Spitzer said the club is working to become a strong “feeder program” that will help produce quality wrestling talent at the high school level.

“This community has been really supportive of what we’re doing,” he said.

The club raised funds to allocate three $2,000 scholarships for local athletes. Two are designated for Montezuma-Cortez High School seniors, and the third goes to a senior from Mancos, Dove Creek or Dolores.

This year’s scholarship honorees – Hunter Goodall and David Vreeken from Montezuma-Cortez and Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle from Mancos – qualified for the CHSAA state tournament this past winter.

Montezuma-Cortez Wrestling Club head coach Casey Spitzer (left) and club president Bryan Kop (right) joins scholarship recipients Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle, David Vreeken and Hunter Goodall at the wrestling club’s awards banquet. (Courtesy of Kimberly Spitzer)

Along with allocating money toward scholarships, other funds raised throughout season allow the club to draw top-tier camp clinicians and purchase equipment.

“We’re wanting to grow the sport in the area, and it wouldn’t be possible without all of the kids showing up throughout the season to put in the work,” Spitzer said. “That’s a success in our book.”

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