LAS VEGAS -- Saturday was Roman Gutierrez's birthday but his team ended up giving more gifts to their opponents than to their coach.
Three Bulldogs were over weight at the morning's weigh-in, which meant that the Moffat County High School wrestling team gave at least 18 points to their opponents before every dual in the bracket portion of the Green Valley Duals.
"This is the first time in 23 years that I've had more than one overweight," Gutierrez said. "That made it extremely hard to compete with good teams."
Moffat County's attempt to win eight of nine trips here was going to have to happen with open spots at 125 pounds, sophomore Levi Weber; 135 pounds, sophomore Cody Norman; and 160 pounds, senior Shayne Zimmerman.
"It was very disappointing to start the day like that," Gutierrez said. "But the other 11 guys knew they were going to have to wrestle well to carry us."
The Bulldogs earned the second seed out of 16 going into the bracket with 134 points from Friday's two wins. Palo Verde, Nev., earned the top seed by scoring two more points, 136.
The day opened against No. 15 seed, Coronado.
The Bulldogs' opponents balanced out the forfeits with two open classes themselves.
The visitors from Northwest Colorado lost only twice and racked up six pins to open the day with a 50-24 win.
The second dual was when the empty classes started to cost Moffat County. The 'Dogs out-wrestled Pine View, Nev., with seven wins and five pins to the Cougars' four wins, but junior Korey Kostur, 140, and senior Eric Fredrickson, 130, had to win their final matches for the team to win.
"I was pretty tired of being behind and needing to win every time," Fredrickson said. "But it makes it good for me at the end of the season when there is more pressure to win."
Kostur won a major decision in his match against Pine View to win the dual for the Bulldogs, 38-37.
Next up was Temecula Valley, Calif., the Bulldogs' opponents in the championship of the GV duals in 2001 and 2003. On Saturday, the Golden Bears and Bulldogs met in the semifinals. Just as Gutierrez predicted, Moffat County couldn't compete with a good team with three open spots.
The Bulldogs were 5-6 in matches against the Golden Bears. Sophomore Brice Boling, 103, sophomore Trenton Duarte and senior Scott Garoutte, 215, picked up pins. Fredrickson and Kostur picked up close wins with 2-0 and 4-3 scores, respectively.
The Bulldogs lost to TV, 48-24, which made it seem that even with the 18 points that Moffat County gave up, the Bears would have won.
It's not that simple.
If two of the Bulldogs who didn't make weight had pinned their opponents, that would have been a 24-point difference in the match, because instead of giving up six points, the Moffat wrestlers would have gained six -- 12 points each match.
"Looking at what Temecula had, in our open classes we would have competed with them," Gutierrez said. "I thought our guys answered the challenge."
Temecula went on to defeat Montrose in the final.
The MoCo wrestlers went into their consolation semifinal knowing that if they beat Palo Verde they could call it a day and claim the third-place trophy. If they lost, they had to wrestle again for fifth or sixth.
"We were tired," Garoutte said. "Not all of us are in great shape, and we just wanted to get the win and finish up."
Garoutte, Boling and junior Daniel Cramblett, 145, picked up pins. For the second time that day, Fredrickson and Kostur needed to pull out a pin and a win for the team victory.
Fredrickson was reversed in the final 15 seconds to lose his 10-2 lead to 10-4. The difference of the reversal, which changed the match from four points for the team to three points.
Kostur stepped to the mat with his team trailing, 31-35.
Kostur had Kyle Barrett on his back four times but couldn't pull out the pin. Despite five wins for MoCo to four for PV, Kostur's 10-4 win wasn't enough in a 34-35 loss.
Moffat County went on to win the fifth-place trophy with a 40-34 win against Highlands, Ariz.
In that dual, Kostur pinned in his final match for the team victory.
"I really believe we were one of the top teams there," Gutierrez said. "But people are going to look at our fifth-place finish and think 'what's wrong with the wrestlers?'"
It's all about an asterisk that reads, "three Bulldogs did not wrestle to make things very difficult."
"I would have rather gone out there and lost all of my matches than missed weight," Norman said to one of his teammates. "It was a difficult thing to watch my teammates out there."
Anther difficult day for the three who missed weight is today. The four seniors will decide their discipline.
"I think that the guys know that it is their responsibility to know their body," Gutierrez said. "They made a commitment to making that weight and when they don't go through, they know the consequences."
The seniors in charge of the punishment weren't exactly licking their chops to hand out extra work.
"They know they are going to run for a while," Fredrickson said.
"But we don't want to make this a point and laugh and yell thing. We'll be over it Tuesday."
This weekend, Moffat County will check its weight again outside of Colorado. The team has two more dual tournaments with a trip to Roosevelt, Utah, on Friday and Rock Springs, Wyo., on Saturday.
"I think everybody will come out with something to prove," Gutierrez said. "The wrestling program has very high expectations, and we almost always meet them. We were just off one weekend."
And it was a weekend that was the first of the season, leaving lots of time to improve.
"We took our best team with us this weekend," Gutierrez said. "Those three guys know that and they need to be more disciplined the rest of the season if we're to win."