By ELWOOD K.SHELTON
Daily Press writer
In junior Trevor Slone's opinion, there's no better or tougher state to wrestle in than Colorado. And no better team to wrestle for in Colorado than the Moffat County Bulldogs.
Slone, last year's regional champion, is ready to get the show on the road, and confirm to the state that the Bulldogs are still the pin kings they were last season.
Last season, the Moffat County grapplers compiled 327 team pins, which broke the old state record also held by the Bulldogs.
The monstrous season on the mats earned the high school its third state title and catapulted the Bulldogs to No. 1 in Colorado preseason rankings.
They are also ranked 35th nationally.
"We've got the 'Let's go out there and get the job done' attitude again this year," Slone said. "We just want to do what we usually do pin everyone."
Slone and the rest of the Bulldogs will have their first chance Thursday through Saturday to see if the pinning machine is still firing on all cylinders when they wrestle in their first three meets of the season.
The first two meets of the year will be on the Bulldogs home mats against teams roughly the same size as Moffat County. However, they won't be bringing the seasoned roster that the Bulldogs will.
The first school the Bulldogs face is Union High School from Union, Utah.
The Bulldogs wrestled the young Union team last year, and won with no problem. While the Union team strikes no terror in the 'Dogs hearts, they do return nearly everyone of its foundling wrestlers, coach Roman Gutierrez said.
Friday night the Bulldogs will then face the Elizabeth Cardinals, a Class 4A school.
The Cardinals will have a disadvantage against the Bulldogs, since they will not only be facing the top-ranked team in the state, they will also be doing it a week after their football season ended.
"Both of the teams may have certain weights that will give us trouble, but I don't think they can handle us as a team," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "If anything, the first two duals will give us a jump-start into Saturday's tournament in Middle Park."
The Middle Park Tournament, in most of the wrestlers opinions, is the first true test of the season. It's a 16-team tournament that will challenge the Bulldogs will a variety of different styles.
Schools such as Torrington High School from Wyoming, along with Rifle both have the chance to challenge the Bulldogs for the first time this season, Gutierrez said.
Last season, challenged or not, the Bulldog walked away with nearly half the championships at the tournament.
"The Middle Park Tournament has been tough in the past," senior Travis Linsacum said. "But every tournament is tough, you never know what to expect. It's all the luck of the draw as far as who you wrestle."
The team understands the position it stands in being ranked No. 1, and it also understands the pitfalls accompanying such a ranking that everyone in the state wants to knock-off the king of the hill.
But this team has something still to prove, although last year's state trophy is safely locked in the high school's trophy case.
"All of us still have something to prove, whether it's for the team or something individually," Linsacum said. "Wrestling is a sport that you never know what is going to happen, so you have to stay hungry the whole season."
The Bulldogs are used to fighting from the top. Last year they were ranked No. 1 in Class 4A the entire season.
However, this is the first year for the team and Gutierrez to be ranked nationally.
Though the Bulldog wrestlers will work to their utmost to avoid becoming over confident, the sheer talent gathered in the Moffat County wrestling room puts Gutierrez at ease.
"These kids work so darn hard to achieve what they want, and they're always going full-blast," Gutierrez said. "They never have to go far in practice to find a quality partner, because there is so much talent in this room. They know they're a good team, and everyone elevates each other. "They'll get the job done."