Heavy on the lightweights

Wrestling team's experience is in the lower weights

The decor in the Moffat County High School's wrestling room is simple.

There are no banners, posters or inspirational sayings; the only decoration on the walls is a line of photos of previous state champions.

Those photos provide all the motivation the team needs.

"Our team is made in the wrestling room," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "The wall of state champions is there to show what can happen with hard work."

The work in the room this season will be particularly tough for the smaller guys. An abundance of wrestlers from 103 pounds to 152 pounds will make it a battle every day for a varsity spot in that room.

"We're inexperienced at 171, 215 and heavyweight," Gutierrez said. "At the other spots, we have guys who all have at least varsity experience."

At the top of that group is senior Korey Kostur. As a junior, Kostur went 43-1 and finished the year 3-1 against other state champions. He beat defending champion Corey Swanson of Fort Lupton for a state title.

Kostur will spar with fellow senior Daniel Cramblett in the room this year. Cramblett was one victory away from a medal at state last year. The only two seniors on the team will start the season with Kostur at 145 pounds and Cramblett at 152.

The rest of the team will adjust to where those two move.

"We'll move around according to where those guys are," Gutierrez said. "They are our outstanding wrestlers this year."

A slew of lightweight juniors will provide the depth that makes Moffat County wrestling what it is.

Brice Boling, Levi Weber, Jake Breslin, Chris McAlexander and Cody Norman all have varsity experience. Boling was one win from a state medal last year. Weber, a state qualifier his freshman year, returns after missing most of his sophomore campaign with an injury, and McAlexander earned a victory at state last year. Juniors Trenton Duarte and Nick Navratil are two-year varsity wrestlers who provide experience at 160 pounds and 189 pounds, respectively. Sophomores Matt Kincheloe, Drew Turner, Chet Peterson and Josh Satterwhite also saw time in varsity matches last year.

There is also a group of freshmen that Gutierrez said includes several "blue chippers."

"We have a lot of good athletes," Gutierrez said. "The focus is to turn those guys who are good athletes into Moffat County wrestlers."

Kostur knows what that takes. He is the third Kostur sibling to go through the program.

"We have kind of a young group," Kostur said. "That makes everything we do in the room important."

Before Christmas break, the wrestlers work primarily on technique during practice.

"The focus is to put a pattern in these kids," Gutierrez said. "They are all young and willing to work hard."

Cramblett said one of the best ways to measure how the team is working is by the reaction of coaches.

"(Coach Ron) Linsacum said that we're working hard," he said. "I think, overall, we need to get a little more physical on our feet."

Kostur said he was encouraged by the way his team wrestled at camp during the summer. The Bulldogs are coming back from a season in which they finished fifth at state. It was the lowest finish in nearly 10 years.

"I think we should make a little noise if we're healthy," Gutierrez said. "We have some good balance and kids with talent."

Kostur had similar thoughts.

"You look at the other top teams, and they lost kids, too," he said. "We start out with some tough competition that will make us better."

The Bulldogs open up the season at the Middle Park tournament. Defending Class 4A champion Pueblo South will be there.

"We're going to take some lumps early," Gutierrez said. "But what you see in our lineup is pretty much what you're going to get the rest of the year. It's up to those in there to get better as the year goes on."

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