Seven years ago when the Moffat County High School wrestling team went to Las Vegas for the first time, the common theme throughout the tournament was Bulldog domination. Seven years later, much of the same is still expected.
"We have a much more aggressive style than teams at that tournament are used to," said coach Roman Gutierrez. "I also think being away from home and familiar competitors helps them relax and just go out there and wrestle with no worries."
The Bulldogs left this morning for their annual trip to Vegas with hopes of improving their 39-1 dual record in Nevada.
Last year, Moffat County changed things up and traveled to Vegas in December because the traditional meet was during the Dog Fight Duals. This year, the Bulldogs return to the Bulldog Grappler where they are undefeated in duals.
For MCHS standards, a relatively inexperienced group is making the trip with seven taking to the strip for the first time.
"We've heard stories about the trip from the upperclassmen," said sophomore Eric Fredrickson. "It's nice because it gives us a little bit of a break from the tough January practices."
Gutierrez said with seven Vegas rookies, it is probably the most inexperienced team he's taken since the first trip.
"The first time we went out there, the high school had bars on the window and there were metal detectors and security guards," he said. "The guys made sure to stay close to their wrestling partner because they hadn't seen something like that before. It will be similar this year with so many first-timers. It's like bringing the little ranch kids to the big city."
The Bulldogs don't expect to feel too far from home because the MCHS following at the Vegas tournaments are sometimes larger than the home crowd.
"Our road trips are fun to wrestle on because we have such a big following," said Steven Englert. "I think going to Vegas also gives a couple of extra reasons for the fans to follow us."
One of the biggest challenges for the top-ranked Bulldogs in the out-of-state tournament is wrestling the unknown opponent.
"The styles of the guys we'll see are completely unknown to us," sophomore Scott Garoutte said. "It is probably good for us to see someone different."
The Bulldogs were somewhat surprised last year in getting defeated in the championship dual by
Tamecula Valley, a team from California.
This year the host team, Centennial, is ranked seventh in the region consisting of the western states. So if the rankings are accurate, MoCo will be challenged once again.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.