John Peroulis (right) of Craig Middle School goes for a takedown at the Centennial Braves Invitational in Montrose on Saturday. Peroulis went 3-2 in the 110-pound class, and the Bulldogs took sixth place out of 19 teams attending.

Rodney Klimper/courtesy

John Peroulis (right) of Craig Middle School goes for a takedown at the Centennial Braves Invitational in Montrose on Saturday. Peroulis went 3-2 in the 110-pound class, and the Bulldogs took sixth place out of 19 teams attending.

Craig Middle School wrestling on the rise

Results from Saturday’s meet in Montrose

85 pounds, Chris Moschetti 2-1

90 pounds, Spencer Brown 3-3

95 pounds, Ethan Powers 0-2

100 pounds, Alex Nevarez 2-2

105 pounds, Devlyn Mosman 3-2

110 pounds, Ryan Zimmerman 5-1

110 pounds, John Peroulis 3-2

115 pounds, Kaden Hafey 1-2

120 pounds, Matt Moschetti 4-1

125 pounds, Joe Selbach 2-3

125 pounds, Drake Zimmerman 5-1

130 pounds, Deven Mosman 3-2

130 pounds, Miki Klimper 4-1

135 pounds, Mike Bingham 5-1

145 pounds, Eddie Smercina 4-1

155 pounds, Cody Pleasant 0-2

Heavyweight Frankie Masterson 2-2

— This year’s Craig Middle School wrestling team has coaches excited about the future of the sport in Moffat County.

The team at Craig Middle School boasts its most participants in years — enough to field more than two full teams. For the coaches, that can make juggling the schedule and the wrestlers a bit of a challenge.

“We lack space,” assistant coach Mark Voloshin said, referring to the wrestling room at CMS. “It’s a great room, but not for how many kids we have. It’s unfortunate, but it’s better than having just a few kids.”

Space issues aside, the coaches are ecstatic to have kids excited about wrestling. Many of the CMS coaches were parents or participants in the early ‘90s and 2000s when Moffat County High School was winning state wrestling championships, and they know having willing participants is the first step to returning to that tradition.

“(The numbers) are huge for us,” head coach Ron Linsacum said. “We had quite the wrestling program for years and, for whatever reason, the numbers fell. As a result, so did the performance. Now we’re back up around 50 kids and every weekend we’re getting great performances.”

What’s equally exciting for coaches is the talent the current group has put on display. Several wrestlers went 4-0 in a meet March 2 in Craig, as the team took first place. Last Saturday, without the full “blue varsity” team, the Bulldogs took sixth out of 19 teams in Montrose, one of the premier early season tournaments, Linsacum said.

“You’re wrestling all the Grand Junction schools, all the schools from the North Fork Valley, Montrose, Gunnison,” he said. “That’s really representative of the Western Slope, and we were right there, near first place.”

Linsacum attributes some of the wrestling revival at the middle school level to a good parent group, which is supportive of the work being done. He said with both wrestlers and their parents being excited about the sport, it makes things much easier on the coaches.

Craig Middle School’s wrestling appears to be on the rise, and the coaches hope it will translate into sustained future success at the high school level. Voloshin believes the middle school years are a key time for an athlete to learn what it takes to be great.

“We’re trying to get them now to understand that you have to work hard to be successful,” he said. “No one’s going to give it to you. There’s an opportunity there, though, and you’ve got to take it.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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