Remaining 2011-12 schedule for the Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team:
(Date — location — opponent/host)
• Jan. 6 — away — Las Vegas Tournament
• Jan. 7 — away — Las Vegas Tournament
• Jan. 13 — away — Green River (Wyo.) Tournament
• Jan. 14 — away — Green River (Wyo.) Tournament
• Jan. 19 — home — Palisade/Steamboat Springs
• Jan. 21 — away — Rifle Tournament
• Feb. 2 — away — Eagle Valley High School
• Feb. 4 — away — Meeker High School
• Feb. 10 — away — Regional Tournament @ Eagle Valley
• Feb. 11 — away — Regional Tournament @ Eagle Valley
• Feb. 16 — away — State Tournament
• Feb. 17 — away — State Tournament
• Feb. 18 — away — State Tournament
Roman Gutierrez has coached the Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team for 30 years.
In that time, Gutierrez has led the Bulldogs to five team state championships.
But, like any team in any sport, Gutierrez knows there are bound to be down years intertwined with successful ones.
The 2011-12 season is one of those seasons, Gutierrez said.
“You always go in cycles with teams, and right now we are in the rebuilding cycle,” he said. “It is a process every team has to go through, and kids need to press on because once you go through that process, the next couple of years you will have success and be able to compete again.”
The Bulldogs struggled through the first two dual tournaments — Dec. 3 in the Mesa Duals and Dec. 9 in the Union Duals.
The Warrior Classic is the only individual tournament the Bulldogs have gone to so far and only one Bulldog grappler — senior Jake Blevins — placed, finishing sixth.
Still, Gutierrez said no one is hanging their heads and everyone is giving it their all.
“In the Warrior, the five kids we took, they wrestled better than we had thought,” he said. “These kids all work hard, and you can’t take that away from them.
“We are a little behind as far as our experience level, so we just need to pick it up the rest of the season.”
Gutierrez said when working with young wrestlers, the coaches need to make sure they aren’t always outmatched, thus the reasoning behind taking only five wrestlers to the Warrior Classic.
“I think the kids understand their ability level, and a lot of them just couldn’t compete with the wrestlers at the Warrior Classic when it comes to mat experience,” he said. “They could have wrestled two matches and been done for the rest of the weekend, but they will benefit from the extra mat time they got at the (Fruita-Monument) tournament.”
Over the holiday break, Gutierrez said the main concern is to keep stressing conditioning.
But, the kids also need to keep improving their wrestling skills, he said.
“We are working and improving in all aspects, and that will just take repetition,” Gutierrez said. “If they can get the feel of wrestling, they can know when they are in a bad situation on the mat and realize what they need to do to get out. And they need to be able to capitalize when they do make a move.”
The Bulldogs will look to bounce back Jan. 6 and 7 in the Las Vegas Tournament.
Gutierrez said wrestling in Las Vegas gives the wrestlers a chance to see competition they can’t see in Colorado alone.
“There are kids from California, Nevada and Utah there, so they see a lot of talent and competition,” he said. “Being able to see different styles of wrestling is going to help them mature as a wrestler and help them down the road.”
No matter the outcome at the end of the season, Gutierrez said the most important thing this season is to continue coaching his athletes so they can use the experience down the road.
“When our sophomores this year are seniors, we will be back to winning,” he said. “We aren’t making any huge gains right now, but this is the beginning of the process. A slow improvement.”
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