Following in the footsteps of the highly successful Golden Bears tournament, Cochrane Cowboy wrestlers have returned with 11 medals from the annual Churchill Classic high school tournament in Calgary, Feb. 8-9,
Senior wrestler Conner Pointen won his second gold in two weeks. Besides shining in his weight class he won the award for most falls by a male wrestler in the tournament.
"He did great as usual," says Cowboys coach Curtis Hooper. "He tried some different stuff and wrestled really well."
Junior high wrestlers earning gold were Brendan Maguire and Jaityn Labelle. Catherine Swedlo, Nicholas Hooper and Annika Fines both won silver. Bronze medals were earned by Eli Fines, Keath Dostaler, Danyka Labelle, Noah Sharkey and Grace Toner. Ben Sharkey was fourth in his category.
A grade 6 student, Grace Toner was permitted to compete with girls two to three older.
"She had some tough matches but she was fantastic," says Hooper. 
"She's a little beast when she gets going on the mats but a quiet smiley girl when she's off the mat. It's quite the sight to see."
The success of the Cochrane wrestlers is the attention they pay to fundamentals, believes Hooper.
"The thing I like the most is they're really hitting their fundamentals. There's always work to do, but they're doing most of their stuff from where they should be, that basic simple stuff that they have to be hitting all the time. Their success rate goes up anytime they do that."
Cowboy wrestlers have been incorporating new techniques brought to the club by coach Russ Friend, a 19-time provincial champion, multi-time national and international champion in both freestyle and Grecco.
"Coach Russ Friend has joined the group and he's brought some new things and the kids are trying them on the mats in practice and in tournaments. It's really easy for them to fall back into old habits and hit stuff they're used to doing and are comfortable with, but they are trying different things and coming out of their comfort zone."
It's that time of the year when higher level tournaments occur and higher level wrestlers are looking towards the regional, national and international competitions that follow the regular season.
"Everything kind of kicks up a notch now. and practices get tougher. They're being pushed a little harder, they have to get their conditioning up because competitors elsewhere are stepping it up as well."
This weekend, the Cowboys will be competing in the Junior Olympics in Edmonton known for its quality competition. This one is open to elementary, junior and senior wrestlers and gives the budding talents of the Cowboys some valuable experience.
"At these bigger ones, the elementary kids get a chance to come out and try what they've been practicing and see what they can do," says Hooper. "They also get a chance to see some of the older kids on the mats that they really look up and the older kids get to cheer on the elementary kids. It creates an environment where it's an individual sport but you have a team backing you up. The elementary kids eat that up, they love it."
On the horizon is the Cochrane Cowboys own tournament that has become a destination for wrestlers not only from Alberta but Saskatchewan and B.C. Hooper says they are expecting 400-plus competitors to be in Cochrane.