The Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team poses during practice Nov. 14 in the MCHS wrestling room. Pictured are, back row, from left, Danny Wileur, Curtis Dunlap, Jesse Demoor, Trent Enochs, Garrett Stewart, Bob Myers, Curtis Bowser, Keith Smith and Brayden Peterson; and, front row, from left, Ashlee Griffiths, Owen Nichols, Justin McAlexander, Luke Peters and Jesse Maneotis. Jake Blevins is not pictured.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

The Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team poses during practice Nov. 14 in the MCHS wrestling room. Pictured are, back row, from left, Danny Wileur, Curtis Dunlap, Jesse Demoor, Trent Enochs, Garrett Stewart, Bob Myers, Curtis Bowser, Keith Smith and Brayden Peterson; and, front row, from left, Ashlee Griffiths, Owen Nichols, Justin McAlexander, Luke Peters and Jesse Maneotis. Jake Blevins is not pictured.

Confidence

MCHS wrestler Stewart hopes to build on last year’s success

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Roman Gutierrez

Team at a glance ...

Coaches:

• Roman Gutierrez — head coach

• Ron Linsacum — assistant coach

• Mark Voloshin — assistant coach

Senior:

• Jake Blevins

2010 state qualifiers:

• Garrett Stewart — 135 lbs.

• Charlie Griffiths — 152 lbs.

• Cody Adams — 189 lbs.

By the numbers:

5: The Bulldogs lost five seniors to graduation. Charlie Griffiths and Cody Adams qualified for the state tournament. Junior Garrett Stewart is the only returning state qualifier.

30: Roman Gutierrez is entering his 30th year as MCHS head coach. In that time, Gutierrez and the Bulldogs have won five state team championships.

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Garrett Stewart, front, a Moffat County High School junior, leads his team during a warm-up drill Nov. 14 in the MCHS wrestling room. Stewart is the only returning state qualifier from last season, going 1-2 during the tournament in March.

2011-2012 Moffat County High School varsity wrestling schedule:

(Date — place — host/opponent)

• Dec. 1 — away — Glenwood Springs High School

• Dec. 3 — away — Mesa State Duals

• Dec. 9 — away — Union Duals

• Dec. 16 — away — Warrior Classic (Central Grand Junction)

• Dec. 17 — away — Warrior Classic (Central Grand Junction)

• Jan. 6 — away — Las Vegas Tournament

• Jan. 7 — away — Las Vegas Tournament

• Jan. 13 — away — Green River Tournament

• Jan. 14 — away — Green River 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 Wrestling Tournament

2011-2012 Moffat County High School junior varsity wrestling schedule:

(Date — place — host/opponent)

• Dec. 3 — away — Montrose Tournament

• Dec. 9 — away — Union High School

• Dec. 17 — away — West Grand High School

• Jan. 13 — away — Green River High School

• Jan. 14 — away — Green River High school

• Jan. 19 — home — Palisade High School

• Jan. 28 — away — Grand Junction High School

In February, the Moffat County High School varsity wrestling team sent three wrestlers to the 4A state tournament in Denver.

As the 2011 season gets underway in December, the Bulldogs return one of the qualifiers — junior Garrett Stewart.

Stewart, who said in February he never expected to qualify for the state tournament as a sophomore, placed fourth in the 4A regional tournament before going 1-2 at state.

This year, Stewart said his goal is to place in the state tournament.

The first step, he said, was to keep working out in the offseason.

“I probably need to work on my conditioning, but I lifted hard, and getting a lot of muscle mass is going to help me this season,” he said. “It doesn’t all start in the wrestling room. You have to be in the weight room and you have to run. You have to work hard on the mat, but you have to do stuff outside the wrestling room, too.”

While the state tournament didn’t go quite as Stewart had expected, he said the experience was well worth it.

“There was a lot of tough competition at the state meet last season,” he said. “I learned a lot of new things and I learned how to handle the pressure.”

Head coach Roman Gutierrez said Stewart has one thing that is crucial in succeeding in wrestling — confidence.

“Garrett looked good at camp (this summer) and wrestled well,” Gutierrez said. “He will slowly keep building more confidence, and that is what you always hope for. You keep them healthy and they have a good last two weeks of the year.”

Last season, five seniors led the Bulldogs.

However, this year Jake Blevins is the only senior on the team that includes seven sophomores and two freshmen.

Gutierrez said everyone, no matter the class, will have to step up.

“Jake, Garrett and Brayden (Peterson) can help lead the team this year,” he said. “But, the younger kids have to keep stepping up because they will take over the team when the older kids graduate.

“We will be young for the next few years, but hopefully we can keep the kids who are coming up through junior high and keep them with wrestling.”

Stewart said one area the entire team struggled in last season was finishing moves.

“We have to work on our takedowns and finishing our shots,” he said. “We struggled in that last year and we need to be the aggressive ones and not sit back and wait for our opponents to shoot.”

With a lot of young wrestlers, Gutierrez said it all begins with fundamentals.

“We really start with the basics,” he said. “Different coaches work in different areas, but we want to build them up and not put a whole lot into them so they aren’t congested. If they can do some of the simple things that should work, it can help get them through.”

Replacing the five seniors from last season will be tough.

Cody and Kye Adams, Charlie Griffiths, Cody Nelson and Ben Winslow accounted for 139 victories last year, and only Kye had fewer than 20 wins.

Peterson, a sophomore, said losing all those victories just makes room for others to step up.

“We have to do our best to win because those guys won a lot of matches,” he said. “We have a lot of younger kids and some kids who took a few years off. High school is a big change from middle school, so we have to work harder than ever.”

This season, Peterson said he hopes to qualify for the state tournament.

To reach his goal, he said he has to follow in Stewart’s footsteps and gain confidence.

“I am going to have to work a lot harder this year and have a more positive attitude,” Peterson said. “Last year, I was intimidated on the mat and I didn’t work as hard I could have in practice. I know I have to do that this year.”

When meets get underway, the Bulldogs will compete in big tournaments like the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction and the Las Vegas Tournament.

But, Gutierrez said it is going to be the smaller meets that help the team grow.

“The Warrior is always good competition, but we have to build off the dual meets,” he said. “The more matches we get under our belts, the better the wrestlers will get.”

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