By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Cory Hixson hasn't touched a wrestling mat in a competitive situation since last year's state tournament.
The 112-pounder has spent the last several months in the classroom, proving to himself and his critics that he's as savvy in the classroom as he is on the mats.
Hixson will officially be released from academic probation Saturday.
Now that Hixson has shown his academic prowess, it is time to show his prowess on the mats.
Hixson will put his wrestling competence on display in front of a home crowd Saturday at the Dogfight Duals held at Moffat County High School.
Because of the restrictions of his probation, Hixson will not compete Friday night.
Hixson's return to the mat in conjunction with a home meet means something special to the senior a chance to say, 'I've returned.'
"My family is really pushing me for state this year, they're a real driving force for me," Hixson said. "So it's cool that I get to wrestle at home for my first meet this season it gives me a chance to say I'm back to everyone."
Hixson is not the only Bulldog taking the varsity mats for the first time this season. The Dogfight Duals will also be the maiden venture for 103-pound freshman Eric Fredrickson younger brother of 160-pounder, senior Cody Fredrickson.
The younger Fredrickson secured his position on the Bulldogs' lineup earlier this week when he beat junior Deric Dill in a wrestle-off.
Previously, Dill had dominated the wrestle-offs, and had been the 'Dogs 103-pound representative for all of the recent meets.
The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven Dogfight Duals, but that doesn't mean it will be an easy start for Hixson, Fredrickson and the rest of the Bulldog team.
The duals will play host to six other teams Friday and Saturday, with two of the teams being state ranked.
The Adams City Eagles and the Valley Vikings are both state-ranked teams, with the potential to cause the Bulldogs some headaches at certain weights.
"Adams City is a well-balanced team with about four outstanding wrestlers, while Valley isn't as balanced they still have a pretty good team," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "They may give us some trouble, but I think our team is too dominant to worry about anything."
Home-mat advantage isn't a factor for the Bulldogs as they prepare for the duals. Other than Hixson finding solace in being able to return to the mats in front of his family, the other Bulldogs are treating the meet as business as usual.
"It's great that we get to wrestle so many matches at home," Gutierrez said. "But for the most part, the guys aren't putting any added stresses on themselves because they're wrestling at home. It's just more mat time for them."
The Dogfight Duals will be held in a similar format to what the Bulldogs wrestled in when they traveled to Las Vegas where they sustained their lone blemish this season.
Instead of having wrestlers fight through the brackets, each of the seven teams will meet each other once, and the best overall record will win.