Bad Dog grappler Spencer Brown puts his opponent in a headlock Saturday during the Rocky Mountain Nationals in Denver. The event concluded the Bad Dogs' run through its Western Slope League schedule - the second of three leagues the team competes in this season. The team begins its Northwest League schedule Saturday in its lone home meet of the season at 8:30 a.m. in the Moffat County High School gymnasium.

Rodney Klimper/courtesy

Bad Dog grappler Spencer Brown puts his opponent in a headlock Saturday during the Rocky Mountain Nationals in Denver. The event concluded the Bad Dogs' run through its Western Slope League schedule - the second of three leagues the team competes in this season. The team begins its Northwest League schedule Saturday in its lone home meet of the season at 8:30 a.m. in the Moffat County High School gymnasium.

Bad Dogs leave mark at nationals

Caddy, Pontine lead 7 placers in Denver tournament

Home meet this weekend

After six months of travel, the Craig Bad Dogs youth wrestling team is staying home.

The team is hosting its lone home tournament of the season Saturday at Moffat County High School.

"It's a fun time," coach Rodney Klimper said. "It's a chance to see the kids in action. You'll get a chance to see the up-and-coming wrestlers that will be competing in middle school and eventually high school. It gives you an idea of what to look forward to."

Eight teams - and a few independent grapplers - will compete on eight mats inside the MCHS gymnasium beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Admission is $2 for an all-day pass. Concessions will be available and Bad Dogs merchandise can be purchased at the event.

All proceeds go to Bad Dogs wrestling and the Northwest League.

"It's a great way to showcase our talent," Klimper said about the home event. "That way, the friends and family of these kids can come see them."

And with a home meet, comes protecting the home turf.

"It's our mat." Klimper said. "Those other teams are going to come in here and try to take it away from us, and we're not about to give it to them.

"We're out to win."

Bad Dog wrestling

Rocky Mountain Nationals

March 20, 21 and 22, National Western Stock Show Complex, Denver

Individual results:

Wrestler Record (pins) Place

Thomas Baker 0-2 (-) -

Mikey Bingham 3-2 (1) 4

Monty Boekmann 0-2 (-) -

Spencer Brown 2-2 (1) -

Daniel Caddy 4-0 (1) 1

Shandon Hadley 0-2 (-) -

Colton Hall 1-2 (-) -

Mikinzie Klimper 1-2 (1) -

Willie Lewis 0-2 (-) -

Christopher Moschetti 0-2 (-) -

Matthew Moschetti 1-2 (-) -

Deven Mosman 3-2 (2) 3

Devlyn Mosman 0-2 (-) -

Luke Pleasant 3-2 (1) 4

Deven Pontine 4-0 (2) 1

Isiac Roop 0-2 (-) -

Jake Shelton 2-2 (1) 4

TJ Shelton 2-2 (1) 4

Trent Vernon 2-2 (1) -

Daniel Wilbur 0-2 (-) -

— Their reputation keeps on growing.

And rightly so.

The Bad Dogs youth wrestling team made the most of its final appearance in a national event last weekend, placing seven grapplers in the top four in the Rocky Mountain Nationals youth wrestling tournament in Denver.

"The kids did really well," coach Rodney Klimper said. "They wrestled hard, they showed their sportsmanship, win or lose, and they had great attitudes. That's all we ask of them."

The three-day event featured more than 3,500 competitors representing 374 teams.

Klimper said the event may have seemed intimidating to a few but not to the Bad Dogs.

"For the kids that have hit a lot of these national tournaments, it was definitely a bigger stage but not an overwhelming stage," he said. "Some of the newer kids were in awe a little bit, but once the tournament started, they just resorted to doing what they know how to do."

What they've proven to know is how to win, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday was no different.

Daniel Caddy and Devon Pontine finished the tournament unscathed, piling up 4-0 records on their way to their respective weight class titles.

"It feels good" to be a national champ, Caddy said. "I worked hard, learned new moves and got faster."

Caddy, 7, said the title didn't come without a few scares.

In fact, he said he thought he was about to get pinned in one of his matches.

"I was on my back," he said, "and I thought it was over. But, I rolled out of it, and I ended up winning."

Deven Mosman worked his way to a 3-2 tournament record and a third-place overall finish, while Mikey Bingham, Luke Pleasant (3-2), Jake Shelton (2-2) and TJ Shelton (2-2) each finished the event fourth.

"I lost to the same kid twice," Bingham said. "I learned to not keep your head down and to not let (the opposition) get in your head."

Bingham lost his first match, battled back to win his next three, before losing in the third-place match and settling for fourth.

"I was bummed out for just like a couple of minutes," Bingham said about his first loss. "I won my next three, and then I saw I had to wrestle the same kid and I thought 'crap.'"

But, Bingham didn't travel all the way to Denver to shy away from some competition.

"I got pinned in the second period," he said. "But, he pinned me in the first period in the first match, so that was better."

So what would happen if Bingham wrestled him for a third time?

"I'd win," he said. "No doubt about it."

Confidence is a trait the Bad Dogs aren't lacking.

"If you go back and look at some of the results from the Intermountain League, there was no competition there," Klimper said. "Then we started the Western Slope League in Palisade and all those kids kind of got a rude awakening. A lot of them thought they were unbeatable, and after the kids got knocked down that peg, they realized that they need to work harder, and they did. It's gotten to the point now where heading into these national events and the state events and all the kids want to go. They are doing whatever it takes to get better, and it's showing."

Klimper pointed to the performance of first-year Bad Dogs wrestler Luke Pleasant as an example.

"Take someone like Luke Pleasant," he said. "He's a rookie this year and normally a rookie wouldn't even think about going to these national tournaments, and he placed fourth."

When the dust had settled on the team's final national event of the season, Klimper said he was proud of the impression his team left when competing on youth wrestling's biggest stage.

"Other coaches would stop and watch our team," he said. "When one of the Bad Dogs would get on the mat, the other coaches would stop and pay attention. They were taking notice. The Bad Dogs are now a team that is known. I think we definitely showed that we are an up-and-coming force in the region. Now and for many years to come."

Notes:

Shandon Hadley, weakened because of a lingering illness, finished the event 0-2. "I just didn't feel good the whole time," he said. "I didn't feel as strong as normal. I'll get 'em next time."

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