Denver In the opening round of the state tournament, nerves are often the biggest problem wrestlers face.
On Thursday at the Pepsi Center, the Bulldogs showed they have nerves of steel, advancing 10 wrestlers to the second round, and opening up a ten point lead.
The closest team to Moffat County is the No. 5 ranked Adams City Eagles, who advanced 10 wrestlers to the second round.
"The first round of a tournament like this is filled with nerves, no wrestler knows what to expect," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "We did well facing some good first round competition, and should only get better as we go along."
The Bulldogs had only five wrestlers seeded lower than their competition, and three of them advanced to the next round.
Juniors Ty Grandbouche, Brandon Duarte and Trevor Sloan all advanced by upsetting higher seeded wrestlers.
Paving the way for the Bulldogs was 135-pound Grandbouche, who led the No. 2 seeded Craig Maurello (36-4) of Pueblo West 4-1 after the first period, and pinned him 40 seconds into the second.
The junior, who is ranked fourth in the state, ended up as the eighth seed in the tournament after placing fourth in the regional tournament at Montrose.
"It's tough to have to start out against the top of the brackets," Grandbouche said. "But when you get to state, people's records don't matter, because all the competition is tough."
Following Grandbouche was 171-pound Duarte's upset of No. 4 ranked John Ellsworth (32-4) of Widefield, scoring three back points in the last seven seconds of the match.
Up to that point the match was tied at 2-2.
"The only thing the guy had was strength, and was giving me a lot of trouble turning him," Duarte said. "He gave me an opening, and I took it."
The other lower seeded Bulldogs who tasted victory were 189-pound Sloan, who won by pinning Legacy High's Dominic Applehan (32-4) at :44 of the third period.
Three Bulldogs who were not as lucky escaping the first round, freshman Eric Fredrickson, junior Cliff Stehle and senior Cole Musgrave.
Stehle and Musgrave were the other two wrestlers who faced higher-seeded opponents.
Fredrickson fell to Adams City's Juan Ortiz in a 6-2 decision. Fredrickson fought hard through the first two periods, catching up to Ortiz's three-point lead with an escape in the last seconds.
But Ortiz put Fredrickson away late in the third, catching him with a takedown in the final seconds.
Musgrave fell to Ralston's Chad Jahn (32-8) who entered the tournament seeded No. 8. Musgrave had one chance to pin Jahn in the second, but the Ralston wrestler escaped and controlled the rest of the match.
The final wrestler to fall was 215-pound Stehle, who was pinned by Mullen's Brian Daniels (23-6). Daniels put the Bulldog on his back in the first :40 of the second period.
"All three guys had a chance in their matches, and against good wrestlers," Gutierrez said. "They just fell short. Those guys need to come out of the gate in the consolation round looking for a pin and a win just get back on track."
While advancing more wrestlers than any other team may surprise most coaches, but not Gutierrez, who expected no less than nine of his Bulldogs to still be on track for a state title.
"The guys wrestled hard, and they'll keep picking up the wins as we go along," he said. "I really believed we would keep at least nine to 10 guys going into the championship round."