The last two years, Cody Nelson had been a little jealous of wrestlers who won the Mountain Vista Survival Tournament. Winners are awarded a big WWE style belt.
“Last year, I had a three-way tie for first, but I didn’t get the belt,” the Moffat County High School senior wrestler said. “A guy I pinned ended up with the belt, so I was looking forward to the chance to get a belt this year.”
Nelson succeeded in his goal with a 10-0 weekend.
“I went into the third period twice and pinned the rest,” he said. “I had one tough match with a kid from Bennett that I won, 3-2.”
Going into the season, the Bulldogs knew that their youth would show early in the season. The opening weekend proved that to be true. The four seniors that wrestled finished the weekend 36-4. The underclassmen went 19-36.
“Our young guys really struggled in all aspects,” coach Roman Gutierrez said. “I was expecting a little more from a couple of them, but at least we now know where we are.”
The Bulldogs finished 1-9 in the dual-format tournament. Their win came against Gateway, 37-36.
At this point of the season, the Bulldogs’ strength will not be in dual competitions.
“We had two empty weights to start the weekend,” Gutierrez said. “Then when Saturday started, we were down three more weights because of injury and not making weight.”
Injuries were the biggest blow to the Bulldogs.
Senior Kye Adams and junior Jake Blevins both went down with knee injuries on the first day. Their return time was unknown as of Monday.
“There were a couple of more duals we could have won with those guys not out,” Gutierrez said. “We hope to get them back, but mostly we hope they are OK.”
Other wrestlers to place in the tournament were seniors Charlie Griffiths, second; Cody Adams, second; and Ben Winslow, third.
In his only loss, Griffiths ran into a familiar foe, Fort Collins’ Jesse Werth.
“I’ve seen him a lot at national tournaments in my career, and he has beat up on me in the past,” he said. “I wrestled better against him than in the past, but he scored right at the end to beat me, 4-2.”
Griffiths and Nelson pledged that they would continue to work to help the youngsters on the team.
“We will work hard in practice and try to get them to do the same,” Nelson said. “We will be on the side of the mat trying to help them out in competitions.”
Griffiths said he saw some encouraging signs toward the end of the two-day tournament.
“They were getting more aggressive and learning what a high school pace feels like,” he said.