Craig Team bonding, families enjoying the nightlife, a little Texas hold 'em and a top-five finish.
These are a few items Moffat County High School wrestling coach Roman Gutierrez has on his to-do list when the team travels today to Las Vegas.
But not particularly in that order.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to compete against 12 teams from Nevada, California and Idaho, beginning Friday in the Las Vegas Invitational wrestling tournament.
"The key on this trip is bringing the kids together," Gutierrez said. "This is when we build tight relationships. We always come back like one big family."
Moffat County has won the event 12 times in its 15 appearances, but despite the success, Gutierrez said he's simply after a top-five finish this go-round.
"We finished third last year," he said. "This year, we are a little thin, so top five would be great."
The Bulldogs will be short two wrestlers in Vegas: Junior Lyle Schaffner was injured when he dropped a weight on his foot while working out, and Moffat County doesn't have a wrestler in the 89-pound weight class.
"We are only taking 11 wrestlers on the trip," Gutierrez said. "It will be important for us to get into the mini tournament."
The teams will be split into two, six-team pools, with the top four finishers from each pool advancing to a "mini tournament" with eight teams competing in an elimination bracket toward the title.
"I'm really hoping that we advance pretty far," Gutierrez said. "It will be key for us to score deep into the tournament."
Gutierrez said many of the wrestlers' parents travel with the team, making it a fun vacation-type atmosphere with a little wrestling mixed in.
The team stays in a hotel 10 minutes from the competition site and 20 minutes from Vegas' main strip.
"We stay far enough away from all the action so the kids stay out of trouble," Gutierrez said. "A lot of the parents take their kids out at night and see the sights. It's a good time for all of us."
Wrestling is at the forefront of Gutierrez's mind, but he relishes the time away from the team provided by the parents being on the trip.
"Yeah, I sneak away," he smiles widely and says, "I like to play Texas hold 'em."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org