The road to the Colorado state wrestling championships is a long one.
For the Moffat County High School team, that road includes a 1,200 mile trek to Las Vegas and back.
Varsity wrestlers on the Bulldog squad -- ranked eighth in the state by On the Mat Rankings -- leave today for the two-day Las Vegas Tournament, where they face 10 teams, mostly from Nevada, but also from California and Arizona.
Competition begins Friday with a dual-style tournament, in which teams are separated into two five-team brackets, and wrestle four dual meets.
Saturday is an individual-style tournament, where wrestlers are seeded based on the previous day's performances.
Between the two days, Moffat County wrestlers should get in at least five or six matches and as many as eight.
All that mat time is the main reason coach Roman Gutierrez's team is taking the voyage to Vegas for the 12th year in a row.
As Bulldog wrestlers prepare for the long haul to state, "we try to get in as many dual meet tournaments we can," he said.
"And this is, of course, a dual meet tournament with an emphasis on Saturday for wrestling in the individual tournament. ... Kids could get eight matches this weekend if they lose, or seven if they go straight through, and that's what you're looking for."
He also said it's good for his wrestlers to see competition outside of Colorado.
"There will be kids that we'll probably never see again as (opposed) to here, where we see some of the same kids two or three times," Gutierrez said. "And once they kind of figure out your pattern, it's something you don't really want them to capitalize on."
Bulldog wrestlers competing in the tournament include:
At 103 pounds, Brandon Maigatter (6-10 varsity record)
At 112 pounds, Cory Vigil (12-4, ranked No. 9 in Colorado class 4A)
At 119 pounds, Brice Boling (18-1, ranked No. 1)
At 125 pounds, Jake Breslin (15-4, ranked No. 3)
At 130 pounds, Matt Kincheloe (8-4)
At 135 pounds, Chris McAlexander (7-10, ranked No. 12)
At 140 pounds, Levi Weber (11-4, ranked No. 8 at 145 pounds)
At 145 pounds, Drew Turner (9-8, ranked No. 10 at 140 pounds)
At 152 pounds, Jake Bricker (4-7)
At 160 pounds, Lyle Schaffner (5-8)
At 171 pounds, Trenton Duarte (13-6, ranked No. 10)
At 189 pounds, Nick Navratil (19-0, ranked No. 3)
At 215 pounds, Josh Satterwhite (10-8)
And in the heavyweight division, David Hickson (9-9)
Perhaps it's appropriate the Bulldogs head to Sin City during this time of year. They are, after all, in what is commonly referred to as Hell month.
It's a time when Bulldog wrestlers focus on conditioning, which was evident at Wednesday's practice, as they were in constant motion, either wrestling or running.
"The kids believe in (the conditioning)," Gutierrez said. "Just like last weekend -- they felt like their conditioning is already improving, that they could go six hard minutes if they have to."