Ashlee Griffiths, a Moffat County High School freshman, gets down in her wrestling stance Wednesday in the MCHS wrestling room. Ashlee is the first female wrestler to compete under Bulldogs head coach Roman Gutierrez and will try and follow the path her brother, Charlie Griffiths, took to four 4A state tournament appearances.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Ashlee Griffiths, a Moffat County High School freshman, gets down in her wrestling stance Wednesday in the MCHS wrestling room. Ashlee is the first female wrestler to compete under Bulldogs head coach Roman Gutierrez and will try and follow the path her brother, Charlie Griffiths, took to four 4A state tournament appearances.

First female MCHS wrestler looks to follow in brother’s footsteps

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“Both of their work ethics are outstanding. When we have practice, (Ashlee) is always there and Charlie was the same way. They come in and get the work done they need to. Plus, Ashlee is very quiet and Charlie was the same way until he was a senior.”

— Roman Gutierrez, Moffat County High School varsity wrestling coach, on similarities between brother and sister, Charlie and Ashlee Griffiths

At 5 years old, Ashlee Griffiths followed her brother, Charlie, onto the wrestling mat at Moffat County High School.

As members of the Craig Bad Dogs youth wrestling program, the brother-sister duo fought their way through the competition, recording wins on a regular basis.

Charlie graduated from MCHS in May after making four trips to the 4A state wrestling meet and finishing as high as third in his junior year.

This season, Ashlee, a MCHS freshman, will again follow her brother, but in a very unique situation.

While girls occasionally compete on youth wrestling programs, Ashlee will be the first female wrestler MCHS head coach Roman Gutierrez has trained in his 30 years in charge of the Bulldogs program.

“When I first started wrestling, being the only girl was kind of weird, but we are all like a big family now,” Ashlee said. “After about two years, being with the guys was fine and it helped having my brother there.”

While Ashlee said she doesn’t feel teammates or opponents treat her differently when they square off, Gutierrez said some definitely do.

“Some wrestlers are going to have a different mindset and some won’t even wrestle her, which is too bad,” he said. “You have to approach a match against a female the same way you would any other match and you can’t treat them any different.”

As for the Bulldogs, Gutierrez said Ashlee is just another freshman wrestler.

“We don’t hold back with her and she doesn’t expect us to,” he said. “She expects to go through everything every other guy on the mat does and she doesn’t want any special treatment.”

When Ashlee started wrestling at 5 years old, she said it was a way to try something new.

After her brother got hooked and her parents got involved, she said it became something fun.

“My parents told me to try it, but if I didn’t like it, I could quit,” she said. “I liked just being out there and being able to wrestle and my parents help push me to improve.”

As Ashlee entered middle school and joined the Craig Middle School wrestling team, she said she still helped with the Bad Dogs when she could, but the middle school team brought a new aspect for her to enjoy.

“In middle school, wrestling was more of a team sport,” she said. “Bad Dogs was more about the individuals and I loved it and the coaches were great, but the middle school team was different and we could get more precise and it helped me improve.”

Rarely losing at CMS, Ashlee said she was excited to make the step up to high school.

While it is a new team with a new head coach, Gutierrez helped the CMS wrestling team and CMS head coach Ron Linsacum is an assistant on the high school team.

“(Linsacum) helped me a lot with my takedowns, so it is nice to still have him around,” Ashlee said. “Roman taught me a lot in middle school, but I also learned a lot from him when he worked with (Charlie).”

With the Bulldogs first meet scheduled for Saturday, Gutierrez said he’s not sure if Ashlee and Charlie will have the same technique against opponents, but the two do share similar qualities.

“Both of their work ethics are outstanding,” he said. “When we have practice, (Ashlee) is always there and Charlie was the same way. They come in and get the work done they need to.

“Plus, Ashlee is very quiet and Charlie was the same way until he was a senior.”

When Charlie, who now attends the University of Wyoming, comes home, Ashlee said the first thing her brother does is tackle her.

Having an experienced wrestler in her home has helped tremendously, she said.

“All Charlie wants to do is wrestle me and make me better,” Ashlee said. “We get more one-on-one time, so if I make a little mistake, we can fix it without stopping and move right on to the next move.”

Ultimately, Ashlee said she wants to live up to what her brother was able to do at MCHS.

And, while she knows she will be facing bigger and stronger guys, she will use what she has in her arsenal to reach her goals.

“I’m going to have to be faster than my opponents and really work the top because that is my strength,” she said. “I know I will be facing seniors, but I want to have fun and I think I can hang with anyone.

“I am definitely thinking state. I’m not sure if I would place, but my goal is to get there.”

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