The progress that Moffat County coach Roman Gutierrez has been waiting for from his team showed up Thursday.
Moffat County controlled Palisade late in matches during a dual between two of the Western Slope's best Class 4A teams. The Bulldogs in blue pinned in all eight of their win on the way to a 54-28 win. Moffat had a forfeit or a pin in 13 of 14 matches against Battle Mountain, which had four wrestlers, to win, 77-0.
"We pinned when we had close matches tonight," Gutierrez said. "It seemed like when we got them to their back, we were aggressive."
One of the best matches for Moffat County was Cory Vigil's third-period pin against Palisade's Lucas Harvey. Vigil trailed 2-5 going into the third period. Harvey was too high on an attempted cradle, and the Moffat sophomore caught his opponent's head, reversed him and pinned him.
"I felt like I was in better shape toward the end," Vigil said after pinning Class 4A's No. 10-ranked 103 pounder. "Every match, it looked like we were in better shape."
Four other Bulldogs, 119-pound Jake Breslin, 125-pound Matt Kincheloe, 130-pound Chris McAlexander and 160-pound Trenton Duarte, pinned in close matches.
"It was one of our best duals," said McAlexander, who led Cody Bailey 5-3 going into the third period before he pinned him. "It gives us more confidence for the regional."
During the weekend, Palisade and Moffat County tied for first at the Rumble in the Rockies Tournament in Rifle. Palisade won the trophy because it scored more points in the duals.
Gutierrez said Palisade and Eagle Valley are the top two competitors to break Moffat's regional title winning streak of eight straight this year.
"Going into tonight, you look at those two teams as the favorites," he said. "I felt good about how we wrestled against one of the region's best."
Moffat County was without state champion senior Korey Kostur, who was sick with what Gutierrez said was "a little bit of pneumonia in one lung."
"He won't be back until at least Monday," the coach said.
The two dominating wins give Moffat confidence going into tonight's dual against Western Slope rival, Meeker.
Last year's dual was a thriller won in the final match. The Bulldogs won an earlier meeting this season, 46-31. Both teams aren't as stacked as they have been in the past, but Gutierrez said he still thought it would be a good matchup.
"We have a couple of guys who can perform better than they did the first time we met them," he said.
Senior Daniel Cramblett is one of those wrestlers.
The 152-pound Bulldog lost to Warrior Classic champion Joe LeBlanc by double digits the first time around.
"I have to stay off the bottom," he said. "My next week will be a big challenge."
Cramblett has three ranked wrestlers the next three times he takes the mat.
"We're getting better as a team, and I think that helps everybody," he said. "You can see from tonight that we're in better shape than other teams. We need to keep working hard like we have been and keep supporting each other."
The dual against Meeker originally was scheduled for Tuesday but was moved back to Friday. Wrestling will start around 7 p.m.