Charlie Griffiths, a Moffat County High School senior, takes a break during wrestling practice Tuesday, days before the state tournament. Griffiths, who wrestles at 152 pounds, won the 4A western regional tournament Feb. 11 and 12 and hopes to reach his goal of becoming a state champion wrestler.

Photo by Brian Smith

Charlie Griffiths, a Moffat County High School senior, takes a break during wrestling practice Tuesday, days before the state tournament. Griffiths, who wrestles at 152 pounds, won the 4A western regional tournament Feb. 11 and 12 and hopes to reach his goal of becoming a state champion wrestler.

MCHS senior looks to leave high school on championship high

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Charlie Griffiths, a Moffat County High School senior, snaps on his headgear Tuesday before getting on the wrestling mat at MCHS. Griffiths started wrestling in fourth grade and has helped coach his sister, Ashlee Griffiths, as she prepares to transition to MCHS wrestling.

Growing up in Moffat County, Charlie Griffiths said he always had a three-part dream.

At 9 years old, Griffiths’ first dream, while wrestling in the Bad Dogs youth wrestling program, was to be a four-time high school state champion.

While Griffiths, now a Moffat County High School senior, has qualified for the state tournament in his three previous years, he’s managed to place only as high as third in his junior year.

When his senior season comes to a close this weekend, that high school goal may not be fully realized, but Griffiths can head onto the next part of his dream — being a four-time NCAA wrestling champion — with some momentum.

Griffiths said the first step in reaching his next goal is to win the 4A state tournament, which began Thursday and continues today and Saturday in Denver.

“When I first started wrestling, I didn’t know my left hand from my right hand,” he said. “To be where I am and wrestling for a chance at a state championship, I think that shows how far I have come.”

When Griffiths was in fourth grade, his father, George Griffiths, signed him up to wrestle.

“That was around the golden era for Moffat County,” he said. “The teams were really, really good back then.”

Because of his father’s involvement in the sport, Griffiths said he has become someone to look up to.

“My dad took me to all the wrestling meets and pushed me through the tough years,” he said. “When you are little, you don’t want to push as much as you do when you get older, so my dad is the reason I am so good now.”

Griffiths said he always has the encouragement of his father, but when he messed up, his dad was one of the first people to make sure he knew.

But, as Griffiths has progressed as a wrestler and learned the tricks and trades of the sport, he said his dad doesn’t do much yelling anymore.

“When I am on the mat and wrestling, my dad will definitely yell and try and tell me what to do,” he said. “In my senior year, there isn’t much I don’t know, so mostly now it is encouragement he gives me.”

While this may be Griffiths last year as a Bulldogs wrestler, another superstar may rise thanks to Griffiths — his sister, Ashlee Griffiths.

Ashlee, 14, has been wrestling since she was 5 with significant help from her older brother.

Griffiths said Ashlee has the upper hand on him because she grew up with people who know wrestling while he didn’t have the same degree of guidance.

“When I started (wrestling), my dad and I knew nothing about the sport so I just kind of learned as I went along,” he said. “Ashlee got brought up with a wrestler who has high school experience and can help teach her the moves.”

When Ashlee begins her first year at MCHS in the fall, Griffiths said she might replace him as the best wrestler in the family.

“I am scared she will beat my records,” he said of his sister’s potential. “She will be one of the toughest wrestlers to come through Moffat County High School.”

Griffiths’ coach through his four years, Roman Gutierrez, said when he gets on the mat at the state meet, he has an excellent chance to walk away the state champion.

“Charlie (Griffiths) will have a tough weight class, but he is wrestling really well lately,” Gutierrez said. “He has a good chance of getting it all done.”

After the last weekend of his high school career is over, Griffiths will set his sights on college.

“I would really like to go to (the University of) Wyoming because I really want to wrestle for a Division I school,” he said. “I have also thought about joining the Air Force and wrestling for them or even going to Western State.”

As Griffiths looks forward to starting as a freshman all over again, he will put the plan in motion to reach the third and final leg of his childhood dream — becoming an Olympic champion.

“One of my dreams and goals since I was little was to become an Olympic champion,” Griffiths said. “Before that, I want my dream of becoming a (high school) state champion to come true.”

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