November is more than four months away, but that hasn’t stopped the Moffat County High School wrestling team from preparing for next season.
The Bulldogs participated June 15 to 19 in a 34-team wrestling camp in Gunnison.
Head coach Roman Gutierrez said he took only seven wrestlers, but most wrestlers competed in 16 to 20 matches at the camp.
“We didn’t have a full team, so a few Meeker wrestlers joined our squad to give us better numbers,” he said. “It was set up so the Western Slope wrestlers didn’t see other Western Slope wrestlers. We got to wrestle kids from the east side of the state and from out of state, so we had really good competition.”
After the first day, Gutierrez said the team was sore and tired, but the wrestlers worked through the discomfort.
“For some, this is the first time they have been on the mat in a while, so after the first match they were a little sore,” he said. “After they were a few matches in, I saw some improvement and they started to feel more comfortable on the mat.”
During the five-day camp, Gutierrez said two upper classmen led the way for the team — incoming junior Garrett Stewart and incoming senior Jake Blevins.
Stewart qualified for the 4A state tournament last year as a sophomore.
“Garrett had some run-ins with a few tough kids,” Gutierrez said. “Like all the kids, he saw what he is going to have to do to get to the next level and compete.”
Stewart went 12-7 at the event and said it was great to get back on the mat.
“We got to see some competition from different states and different schools we don’t see during the season,” he said. “I wasn’t really in great shape and I underestimated my opponents sometimes, but that is why we compete during the summer.”
As for Blevins, Gutierrez said the senior showed a trait all his wrestlers need — strength.
“There was definitely an improvement in Jake’s strength since last season,” he said. “He still needs to get his technique down a little better, but the strength has helped him make gains and improve.”
Blevins and Stewart will be two of the oldest returning wrestlers, thrusting them into a leadership role.
“It is tough to go from being just a sophomore to a leader of the team,” Stewart said. “But, it isn’t anything I can’t handle and it will be a fun year.”
The team will have open gym Thursdays this summer, but the workouts won’t be too long, Gutierrez said.
“We don’t officially start practice until November, but summer workouts are good to help keep the rust off,” he said. “A lot of the guys compete in fall sports, and we don’t want to infringe on other programs, but open gym gives the guys an opportunity to improve themselves.
“We are all excited about the wrestling season and to see who will step up.”
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