Wrestlers ready to put it all on the line

Another league title -- ho hum.

Seven consecutive regional titles -- borrrring.

Like it or not, Moffat County High School wrestling is measured each year by one thing, its performance at state.

"Nobody really notices those other things," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "It all depends on how we do at state."

The Bulldogs left Wednesday for the Pepsi Center and the February days that they look forward to every season. Nine wrestlers hopped in two vans and went on their way. This is the first time in five years that the Bulldogs are going to Denver with serious questions about a state championship.

"Pueblo South is just very, very good," Gutierrez said. "But I've seen crazier things happen."

The defending champion Colts have 12 wrestlers qualified.

All that Moffat County can do is wrestle the best it can, which tends to happen at state.

The four regional champions -- senior Eric Fredrickson, 130; junior Korey Kostur, 140; senior Scott Garoutte, 215; and senior heavyweight Kyle Fredrickson -- have must-win matches in the first round. Regional champions always are matched up with a fourth-place finisher from another regional.

"There are a lot of good heavyweights this year," Gutierrez said. "So Big Fred has some work to do, but the other guys should win with pins."

That leaves the other five wrestlers. Two of them, sophomore Brice Boling, 103, and junior Daniel Cramblett, 135, finished third and have the runners up from another regional.

Boling's opponent is Broomfield's Cory Casady. The wrestlers have similar records -- Boling, 36-7, Casady, 37-3. Casady has been ranked in the top three by On the Mat Rankings all season.

Cramblett matches up with Robbie Ververs of Thompson Valley.

Ververs has a better record of 32-7 but a majority of Cramblett's losses came at the beginning of the season when he was wrestling at 145 pounds.

"Brice and Daniel are going to be close," Gutierrez said. "It would be nice to get them off to a good start."

The fourth-place regional wrestlers, seniors Brent Chamberlain and Shayne Zimmerman, and sophomore Chris McAlexander have the responsibility of facing regional champions. Chamberlain has Broomfield's Vinny Marone, who was ranked behind Chamberlain all year in On the Mat Rankings. McAlexander and Zimmerman are the Bulldogs with the toughest draws.

Zimmerman has second-ranked Vinny Vigil of Widefield. Zimmerman has wrestled three of the top wrestlers in the weight class tough this season but hasn't been able to pull get a win. Maybe he's due.

"If Shayne were able to beat Vigil, who is one of the best in the class, he would have a pretty easy way after that," Gutierrez said.

J.R. Roman, the sixth-ranked wrestler in a stacked 125-pound weight class, is McAlexander's welcome party to the state tournament.

The Bulldogs have led the state tournament after Thursday the last four years. This year will be telling as far as their chances to be in the top three. The back door is always a favorite place for Moffat wrestlers, but they would prefer staying in the championship bracket as long as possible.

Wrestling begins today at 7 p.m.

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