It's a good thing that the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas had metal detectors instead of medal detectors or the Moffat County High School wrestling team might still be at airport.
All 14 wrestlers placed in the top five and the Bulldogs had eight individual champions on their way to winning the Bulldog Grappler at Centennial High School in Las Vegas by 160 points.
"I was pretty pleased with how they came out and went after it," said coach Roman Gutierrez. "Some of the less experienced guys wrestled strong for us this weekend."
Freshman Korey Kostur (125), sophomore Scott Garoutte (215) and junior Kaleb Brown (135) all went undefeated in their first trip to Vegas. Kostur and Garoutte were named outstanding wrestlers in the lightweight and heavyweight classes respectively.
Kostur's final match was against Centennial's Angelo Antuna, a returning Nevada state champion. The freshman pulled stuck the state champion at 2:46 into the match and the crowd of 30 to 40 Bulldog faithful went crazy.
"This weekend was a confidence booster for me after the Dog Fights were pretty frustrating," Kostur said. "My bracket actually wasn't too tough until the championship but that pin felt pretty good."
Garoutte's road to being named outstanding had about as many speed bumps as I-70. He pinned all of his opponents and never went into the third period.
"A lot of my guys were strong but they didn't have very good technique," he said. "It seemed like I was a lot more aggressive."
One of the few times that the MCHS fans were surprised by an opponent's ability came in Saturday morning's dual against Esperanza, a team out of California. Senior Ty Grandbouche (145) was surprised by Evan Garza in a 4-3 decision for Grandbouche's second loss of the year. In the next match, Ty Weber (152) came back from being down 0-2 with an escape and a takedown in the final seconds to give Joel Sarmiento his second loss of the season.
"We were a little sluggish in that dual," Grandbouche said. "I was thinking about that first match the whole day until the rematch."
The Bulldog seniors showed the typical finals wrestling they're known for Saturday afternoon. Grandbouche overcame his defeat and earned a win in the rematch, 4-1.
Weber followed suit with a 10-2 manhandling of the second-ranked 152-pounder in California.
The other three champions for the Bulldogs were seniors Bryan Hampton (119), Brandon Duarte (171) and Trevor Sloan (heavyweight).
Hampton's final came down to the final seconds. The senior was up 10-6 in the fourth when Centennial's Jeff Lavigne scored a takedown and two near-fall points to tie it up as the timer came out to stop the match. Hampton got up and appeared to earn an escape point, but after a conference with the coaches and referees the point was called off and the match was sent into overtime The Moffat County senior wasted no time in earning his first high school tournament championship with a quick takedown.
"That was probably one of the best and closest matches I've had," he said. "I would have to say that it was at least the most exciting."
Duarte and Sloan could have been named the outstanding wrestlers in the heavyweight classes just as easily as Garoutte with their dominance throughout weekend. Duarte went through the competition with five pins and two technical falls, including a 15-0 win in the finals against Alex Olea of Orange Glen, Calif.
Sloan picked up three pins, two technical wins and a 13-3 decision over Centennial's Franklin Cruz in the semifinal. His pin of Mike White of Bonanza, Nev., in the finals was the first loss White had suffered all year.
The other two wrestlers to make it to the championship before losing were junior Charlie Martinez (160) and sophomore Eric Fredrickson (112). Martinez was pinned by the middleweight outstanding wrestler of the tournament, Soren Peterson of Centennial. Fredrickson fell to Thomas Kanski of Green Valley, Nev., 9-2, in the final match.
Other results for the Bulldogs were freshman Steven Englert (103) fourth, senior Ryan Hampton (130) fourth, junior Jason Mosher (145) fifth, and sophomore Brent Chamberlain (189) fifth.
"I hope this will be the turning point for the less experienced wrestlers that placed well," Gutierrez said. "Our aggressive style is still more than they can handle out there, but there are individuals who are getting
stronger and tougher."