The Dog Fight Duels wrestling tournament got underway at 3 p.m. today and Mark and Lois Olson were where they have been the last 30 years.
Mark is running the clock and Lois is keeping the books.
"We've been here through five coaches and two generations of wrestlers," Mark said. "We've also seen a lot of parents come and go as their kids do the same, but we'll be here as wrestling fans as long as we can."
The couple doesn't have any children of their own, but when listening to them talk about the Moffat County High School wrestling program, it's almost like they adopt 20 high school-age children every year.
"When people ask, 'Which one is your kid,' I respond, 'They're all our kids,'" Lois said.
The Olsons retired as teachers from the Moffat County School District six years ago, which has allowed them to follow the team more often.
"We've been to about 10 or 12 state tournaments," Mark said. "We go on the road to about three or four tournaments a season."
With 30 years of wrestling-watching experience the couple knows their grappling.
"We've seen enough to be able to tell who the next special one will be," Mark said. "Last year's team was the most superior top to bottom that we've had."
While the two said they have seen their share of top wrestlers and have many fond memories, they didn't want to single anybody out.
"We could go through all the names that have been unique or special," Lois said. "But it wouldn't be fair to the other guys that have worked just as hard."
One of the memories they did mention involved senior Ty Weber and his uncle, Mark Zimmerman.
"Zimmerman would pin people with a move called the three-quarter stack and everybody would anticipate the move," Mark said. "It was special to see Ty make the same move that his uncle had taught him."
Lois admits that she can get a little rowdy while cheering for her boys, but when she's an official, it's all business.
"It's important that I don't make any mistakes so I have to hold back when I'm at the table," she said. "It's hard to be stern and not cheer at times, but I'll save that for the road."
The Dog Fight Duels were started when Roman Gutierrez became head coach at MCHS. Before that, the only wrestling hosted at MCHS were duels, so the Olsons were always able to watch the Bulldogs while officiating. Tournaments create the problem of not promising that a Bulldog will be at the same mat that the couple is officiating. So when MoCo hosts the regional tournament this year, how will the Olsons solve the problem?
"They asked us to help at the regional but we told them no," Mark said. "We couldn't be promised that we'd get to watch the Bulldogs and we have to watch our kids."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.