Bad Dogs headed to nationals

— Fresh off an impressive performance March 6 and 7 in Grand Junction, the Bad Dogs youth wrestling team is once again getting ready to take the show on the road.

After placing 20 of 30 grapplers in their past meet, a contest in Grand Junction, the Bad Dogs schedule is taking a more difficult turn.

"Those local meets are important as preparation for the bigger stage," coach Rodney Klimper said.

There is no bigger stage than the one the team is about to step on.

The team competes today, Saturday and Sunday in the Rocky Mountain Nationals at the National Western Complex in Denver.

"It's the biggest tournament of the year for the Western United States," Klimper said. "It's a three-day event with 3,500 competitors and 374 teams are registered. It's going to be some really tough competition for us."

And tough competition isn't something the Bad Dogs shy away from.

The event is the third national meet of the year for Craig's youth grapplers.

"It's far bigger and tougher than the state meet we were just in," Klimper said. "We've been practicing hard this week to get ready. We want to go in there and have a good showing. The kids are excited."

The Bad Dogs have improved each week since the season began nearly seven months ago, an attribute Klimper said he hopes will continue this weekend.

"We just want to see kids do better than they did at the last nationals (a third-place finish Jan. 24 in the Beehive Brawl in Richfield, Utah), or even for us to do as well as we did at state," Klimper said. The coaching staff "just wants to see a definite improvement by the kids. Whether they win or lose isn't the major issue. It's more about the effort they put forth."

He'll find out soon enough.

The event is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. today.

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