Is it wrestling season already?
It is for the Bad Dawg wrestling team and the squad of 36 wrestlers from age four and up is busy breaking in the mats.
"It's great to get going again because we get to legally hurt people on the mats," said Travis Noland, 10.
"This is just the beginning of a fairly long season from November even to May," coach Billy Bingham said. "They'll have over 20 tournaments with the opportunity for championships in three leagues and several separate tournaments."
The three leagues that the Bad Dawgs will wrestle in are the Intermountain League, Denver Metro League and the Western Slope League.
In addition, there are other large independent tournaments like the one that the team traveled to this past weekend.
At the Monster Mash Nationals in Denver, some of the team's top finishers were: 8 & U Ivan Nielsen, 1st; Jake Bingham, 6th; Clara Tomlin, 8th; 10 & U Nathan Tomlin, 3rd; Scott Mann, 6th; 12 & U Drew Turner, 4th; Troy Vernon, 7th; 15 & U; Kory Kostur, 1st; Steven Englert, 7th.
The Bad Dawgs will host their own tournament in Craig on Dec. 7th.
While the season spans almost seven months, Bingham said he rarely sees the length of the season take a toll on his wrestlers.
"There is great team unity and friendships that develop," he said. "We travel almost every weekend and it is pretty intense, but the kids enjoy spending time together and getting out of Craig sometimes."
Throughout the season, the grapplers' dream of stepping onto the mat like the Moffat County High School state champion wrestlers.
"I always like to watch the Kosturs and Ty Weber," said Nathan Tomlin, as he put on Weber's kneepad that was left at practice and started to imitate the 2002 state runner-up.
"We are very aware of how good they are and want to be like them," said Garrett Verplanck, 12.
"My brother wrestled and he taught me the moves," Noland said. "The high school team is pretty awesome."
Bingham said one of the strengths of his team is each individual's dedication.
"The kids that want to do well will be here every practice," he said. "It's rare that I have more than three gone at one practice. There is always 110 percent put in by the ones who want to win. They want to be like the boys they see in the high school."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.