The surprising loss to Meeker High School, 36-35, followed by the unexpected departure of senior Jason Mosher made for a tough Friday last week for the Moffat County wrestling team.
A week later there hasn't been much team discussion about the adversity that continues to pop up in the Bulldogs' attempt for their fourth consecutive Class 4A state title.
"We were all pretty pissed after Meeker," said senior Kaleb Brown about his team's first loss in a dual since January of 2002. "But we had to put it behind us because we had another tournament the next day."
The next day the Bulldogs went out and finished third behind two Class 5A schools in the Palisade tournament; placing nine of 10 wrestlers and pinning 21 of the 23 opponents they defeated.
"It seemed like Meeker was a wake up call," said coach Roman Gutierrez said. "The last two times out we've looked better."
With Mosher turning in his stuff earlier in the week it marked the second senior who had state-qualifying potential to leave the mat. Adam Evans, who would have wrestled at 112 left the team before he had a chance to step on the mat in a varsity event. Last year, he finished sixth at the Warrior Classic at 103 before leaving the team.
"We have no choice but to go on with who we've got," Gutierrez said. "The kids who are in there are willing to go to bat for us."
The absence at 145 created by Mosher's exodus may be filled by sophomore Daniel Cramblett, who wrestled at 130 last week.
"Daniel stepped up and said he would try to put on the weight to wrestle there," Gutierrez said, explaining that Cramblett had to be at least heavy enough to qualify for the 140 weight class to move up to 145. "He'll be giving up a lot of weight but what we can get from him will be a bonus."
In addition to key wrestlers leaving, the Bulldogs are also without two wrestlers who were regulars on last year's team because of injuries. Senior Charlie Martinez (160) and sophomore Steven Englert (112) are injured. Martinez isn't expected back until regionals and Englert is out at least this weekend.
"The guys are taking it in stride," Gutierrez said. "They've been talking about who has to step up at state to get us our points."
The upperclassmen recognize the effort needed for a state championship continues to increase.
"We really can only worry about ourselves individually," said Jesse Brookshire (130). "The team points will come and we'll see where we finish."
"We have to make up for those guys," Brown said. "If we can get everybody back and wrestling well, we still can be in the mix."