Freestyle wrestling supplements off-season

Moffat County High School's wrestling room, especially for high school wrestlers, is used as commonly as a classroom. Practice occurs both during a winter season that is spent blazing a path to state, followed by freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the spring and early summer.

Brent Chamberlain, a Craig Middle School eighth-grader, isn't far from making the high school wrestling room his second home.

For two months out of the year, he's on the Bulldogs' practice mats working on his speed, moves, and strategy all traits of freestyle wrestling.

He does this for a reason; so that someday his middle school career, which was plagued by only one loss, can build into a something similar on the high school mats.

"Freestyle allows me to get more mat time through the spring and summer. It helps me learn new moves and different variations of moves I already know," Chamberlain said of freestyle wrestling, which he started to participate in during the second grade.

Freestyle wrestling is a style similar to the collegiate-style of wrestling, but differs slightly in the pinning and scoring systems.

A pins only takes a one-second count, compared to the three seconds required on the high school and collegiate levels.

Most successful high school wrestlers supplement their off-season regimen with either freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling practice. Each style adds new dimensions to a wrestler's arsenal, making them more effective the following winter.

Moffat County's Freestyle Wrestling Club is still a month away from the June 1 state tournament, and to this point, has represented Moffat County in classic fashion. The club's wrestlers have won seven individual tournament titles, placed second 11 times, and have five third place finishes.

The state tournament, which will be held in Trinidad this year, is the chance for wrestlers to qualify for national competition and different nationwide wrestling camps. Moffat County wrestler Mark Hastings qualified for the Junior Olympic camp last year at the national competition in Fargo, N.D.

"The class of wrestlers at state is excellent, and even more so nationally," said freestyle coach, Andy Seltzar. "The kids can come up against some of the toughest competition they'll ever have when they get to the national level."

Wrestlers vary in age from eight and under to 18 years old, and representing six classes of wrestlers. Each wrestler competes at a certain weight in each class, and all are eligible to compete at state.

While the freestyle practices are far less taxing then those of the high school wrestling season wrestlers practice twice a week and attendance is voluntary it is still a statement about the athletes involved.

The involvement in Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling reiterates the amount of dedication Moffat County wrestlers have in protecting their wrestling heritage. A heritage which is backed by four state high school titles and numerous state qualifiers.

"Some of these kids will be wrestling no less then four months out of the year, so I think that makes a statement about how much they love the sport," Seltzar said. "The kids are doing it to get better, and it shows in the record they accumulate these kid are out to win."

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