As Moffat County High School assistant wrestling coach Don Guffy started practice for the Bulldogs Tuesday afternoon he asked them, "Who puked last night after practice?" As three wrestlers raised their hands there was some mumbling about how difficult the first official practice since Christmas break had been. But nobody complained too much because they knew what to expect coming back from some time off.
"Some of these practices in January will make a Billie goat puke," said coach Roman Gutierrez. "It's not a fun situation for them sometimes but they expect it because they want to get in the best physical shape possible."
With a mandatory week off Christmas break, basketball players or swimmers may face the challenge of losing their conditioning or rhythm, but arguably more is at stake for wrestlers. Christmas ham, desserts and candy tantalize the grapplers who need to maintain their weight as best they can over the break.
"The pies and cheesecake looked good but I had to stay away from it," said sophomore Eric Fredrickson who wrestles at the 112-pound weight class.
"I was on the scale a lot to make sure the weight wasn't taking off," said senior Ty Grandbouche a 145-pound wrestler. "A lot of us also got out and ran to keep the conditioning."
Gutierrez said his program doesn't focus on wrestlers cutting unnatural amounts of weight and that only a couple of his athletes have to watch their weight closely this year.
"We feel it is better to have them wrestle close to their natural weight," he said. "There are only two or three who are cutting much right now."
So far this season the Bulldogs have had two wrestlers not make weight at a competition. One of the wrestlers cutting the most weight is junior Adam Evans who is trying to stay in the 103-pound class.
"I wrestled in the Warrior at 103, but I came back from break at 112," said junior Adam Evans, who went with his family on a trip and missed the team's voluntary practices last week. "I ran and did pushups but I also ate a lot.
"Once you start practicing again though, it's easy to lose it and these January practices get pretty intense."
The first chance for the Bulldogs to see what they may have lost conditioning wise or gained weight wise will be in a duel Thursday at Rifle.
"Rifle has about four or five guys that are tough," Gutierrez said. "They match up with us well and will be a good test to get us ready for the next two weeks."
On Friday and Saturday, the boys in blue host the Dog Fight Duels and then the Bulldogs leave the following Thursday for the Desert Duels in Las Vegas.
Getting the squad back to full strength is a goal that Gutierrez mentioned. Injuries have played a part in the season with junior Jason Mosher sustaining an injury at the Warrior Classic and it appears that senior Trevor Sloan will sit out of the Dog Fight because of an injury he sustained Monday.
"We're a little beat up right now but when we need to be fresh is February," Gutierrez said. "Mosher is back from his injury and we hope to have Sloan back next week as well as Charlie Martinez (academically ineligible)."
As far as the extra pie or cheesecake over Christmas break, Gutierrez said he doesn't think it will be around much longer.
"The veterans know what to expect in January and they know if they weren't disciplined over the break, they'll pay for it," he said. "The younger guys, well, they learn and we hope that they come back the next year knowing what it takes over break to make January easier on them."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.