Bulldog wrestlers win big in Vegas

MCHS records third-place finish in tourney out West

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Individual Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team results from Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Tournament:

(Name, weight, place)

• Charlie Griffiths — 152 pounds — first place

• Cody Nelson — 125 pounds — first place

• Cody Adams — 189 pounds — second place

• Ben Winslow — 215 pounds — second place

• Dru Neilson — 160 pounds — fourth place

• Garrett Stewart — 140 pounds — fourth place

Heading into the Las Vegas Tournament, the Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team’s goal was to gain experience and improve.

With half of the team placing Saturday in the individual tournament, head coach Roman Gutierrez said the effort was there.

“The kids put out the best performance they could with the capabilities they have,” he said. “A lot of the younger kids are making gains and the seniors are doing their part.”

Of the 12 wrestlers the Bulldogs took to Las Vegas, 11 advanced to Saturday’s individual tournament after the team went 4-1 in Friday’s dual meets.

MCHS was able to take home two first-place medals, two second-place medals and two fourth-place medals.

The strong performance by the Bulldogs earned MCHS third place overall out of 11 teams.

Seniors Cody Nelson (125 pounds) and Charlie Griffiths (152 pounds) won their weight classes.

Seniors Cody Adams (189 pounds) and Ben Winslow (215 pounds) took second in their respective weight classes.

Nelson and Griffiths finished the weekend undefeated.

Sophomores Garrett Stewart (140 pounds) and Dru Neilson (160 pounds) finished in fourth place.

Gutierrez said Las Vegas was the first time Neilson had placed in an individual tournament.

After losing the team’s first dual match Friday to Palo Verde High School (Nev.), Gutierrez said the Bulldogs kicked their intensity up a notch.

“Palo Verde mopped up in our match to start things off, and I think the kids saw that as a wake-up call,” he said. “They wrestled a lot better after that to finish strong.”

With a young team, Gutierrez said the underclassmen have little things to work on on, but are improving.

“To get to the next level, the wrestlers will have to fix a few little mistakes,” he said. “A couple guys lost close matches to get into a medal match, but they are taking steps forward.

“The young kids are just paying the price that everyone pays in the beginning.”

While the younger Bulldogs came out timid early in the season, Gutierrez said they wrestled with more confidence in Las Vegas.

“The team isn’t backing down,” he said. “Early on in the season, they seemed to be intimidated, but they are finishing matches and wrestling with more confidence.”

As for the seniors, Gutierrez said they are fulfilling their leadership role.

“(The seniors) lead in the wrestling room and then they carry that over to the mat in tournaments,” he said. “They put in four years and things are starting to pay off for them.”

Heading into the upcoming weekend tournament in Green River, Wyo., the team will be pushed hard, Gutierrez said.

Trying to prepare the Bulldogs for the hard stretch at the end of the season, he said they will be physically drained, but the effort would pay off.

“I feel the team will wrestle tired in Green River, but it is expected,” the coach said. “It will affect their performance a little, but it will be worth it come time for the regional and state tournaments.”

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