Leaving for Las Vegas

Two wrestlers take inaugural flight, join four other first-timers

LAS VEGAS -- Troy Vernon didn't find out until Tuesday that he'd be on a flight to Las Vegas.

His teammates David Hickson and Cory Vigil knew earlier they would make the trip. But their excitement came from never being on a plane before.

They're three of six first-timers to make the 10th annual Moffat County wrestling team's trip to "Sin City," or as the Bulldogs like to call it, "Pin City."

Vernon was reminded on the bus early Thursday morning that he would have a constant companion on his rookie voyage.

"Hey Troy, where's the scale?" coach Roman Gut-ierrez asked during the bus ride to Denver International Airport. "That scale is your girlfriend on this trip."

It's common on trips to see a Moffat County underclassman carry the scale the wrestlers use to check their weight. Vernon said he didn't mind the chore because he never expected to make the trip as a freshman.

"It was good timing to move up," he said. "I'm a little nervous for my first varsity tournament."

Sophomore Matt Kin-cheloe's grades made him ineligible for the trip this week, so junior Jake Breslin moved up from 119 pounds to Kincheloe's 125 spot, and Vernon filled in at 119.

The trip also was unexpected for Hickson, who went out for wrestling for the first time this year.

"I didn't even expect to make varsity (this year)," he said. "Now, I'm on varsity, and I get to fly to Las Vegas with the team. We've always driven for family vacation, so I'd never flown."

Vigil worked hard to get down to 103 pounds so he could be on varsity.

The opposite of Vigil's effort is that of sophomore Josh Satterwhite. He added 16 pounds since Christmas break to make the trip. He will wrestle at 215 pounds after starting the season at 171.

With an injury to sophomore heavyweight Chet Peterson last week, Hickson moved up to wrestle heavyweight, and Satterwhite takes his spot at 215.

"I don't want to lose," Hickson said. "I felt like last week's practice made me better, so I hope for the same this weekend."

After two years at the Green Valley High School Duals, the Bulldogs are returning to Centennial High School -- the tournament they initially came here for.

The young team focused on improving in some aspect every week. This week, the focus was on not getting pinned.

"We've worked a lot on getting out from bottom (position)," senior Daniel Cramblett said. "That is what has hurt us earlier this season."

Gutierrez said his hope for the weekend is to see more aggressive wrestling.

"Our pin ratio was horrible at the Warrior (Classic before Christmas break)," he said. "It improved last weekend, and I hope to see the same this weekend."

Today, the Bulldogs will wrestle in four duals. They start with Palo Verde High School from Las Vegas at 3 p.m. Pacific Coast Time. The Bulldogs lost to Palo Verde by one point last year.

The duals are separated into two, five-team pools. On Saturday, the top four wrestlers from the round-robin action in each pool will advance to an eight-man bracket.

Champions will be crowned in each weight class through the bracket.

"I don't expect our young guys to win every one," Gutierrez said. "But I do hope that they're more aggressive each time out and we have more close matches."

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