Bulldogs take a gamble on Vegas tourney

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By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Las Vegas may draw the world's best poker players, but it leaves something to want for wrestlers until the Bulldogs roll into town Friday and Saturday.
Seniors like Kyle Kostur (130 pounds) and Mark Hastings (125 pounds) have made a career of dominating the city-of-sin's mats.
In fact, the two seniors have never lost a match in Las Vegas. Although money, in a town like Las Vegas, may be another question.
Kostur and Hastings are not the only wrestlers who have flexed their mussels while Sigfried and Roy play with their tigers.
The team has walked away with five first places in the six years they have traveled to the Vegas tournament.
"The Las Vegas tournaments have been pretty easy in the past," Kostur said. "They just don't seem to draw in the caliber of teams we face in Colorado."
The lack of tough competition is fine with coach Roman Gutierrez, though, because he said the Las Vegas is meant to be fun.
Gutierrez started the Vegas trip as a way to expose his wrestlers to a big tournament, in a big city.
Additionally, it gives many wrestlers their first trip on an airplane.
This year may be different from years past, though, because the team typically travels to Vegas in January.
The change of venue to December was made because the tournament falls the same weekend as the Bulldogs home tournament Jan. 11 and 12. Because the team will wrestle this month, it means they'll be facing some new opponents.
"We've never been to this tournament, so we don't know what sort of competition we're looking at," Gutierrez said. "Hopefully there will be a few weights that will challenge us, but I really don't think there's too much to worry about."
The Las Vegas tournament primarily draws teams from California and Nevada. While the Nevada schools pose little risk to the Bulldogs, the California schools may be a whole different story.
"There are school like Bakersfield that are ranked nationally every year," Gutierrez said. "But we've yet to run into any schools of that caliber yet."
The tournament is run in a two-tiered fashion, with Friday's matches determining team placing.
Saturday is a mini tournament, where the 26 teams in attendance are split into six different groups which are determined by how they wrestled the previous day.
The trip is not all about wrestling, Gutierrez said. The Bulldogs will also hit the Vegas strip and Excalibur for some rest and relaxation in between matches.
"Although, the craps and blackjack tables will remain Bulldog-free, the town's steak houses will be filled," Gutierrez said.
For many coaches, a certain amount of fear might be present going to an athletic event held in Las Vegas, but not for the Bulldogs' coach.
"The kids always wrestle outstanding when we get to Vegas," Gutierrez said. "Their always focused when they get on the mats. Of course, there's always distractions at the hotel, but that's the way it goes."

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