Craig On Friday night, the Moffat County wrestling team will take to the mat in Craig for the last time in 2014. It also will be the final act for the seniors on the team, wrestling for the last time in front of a home crowd.
Among those seniors are Brayden Peterson and Jesse DeMoor, the team captains and wrestling junkies who have done other sports during their time at MCHS, but always with the mat on their minds.
Both started wrestling a while ago: Peterson in second grade and DeMoor in sixth, before he lived in Craig. DeMoor didn’t see himself as a wrestler at first, but that changed when he was more or less forced into the sport.
“I got into a fight, and I was basically told I would be expelled from that school or I needed to wrestle for them,” he said. “I chose to wrestle 'cause I didn’t want to leave that school. I didn’t think I would like it, but I did.”
Peterson’s road to wrestling was much more typical, with him following the footsteps of his relatives and brother, starting out with the Bad Dogs in Craig in second grade. But both of them enjoy the individual aspect of the sport, with all the pressure on each of them against one opponent.
“When you mess up in a team sport, you feel bad and your teammates can get mad at you,” DeMoor said. “But when you screw up in wrestling, it’s all on you. On the other hand, when you win, it feels that much better. I like the team to do well, but if you win, you can at least feel good about doing your part.”
Both have been among Moffat County’s best wrestlers during their time as Bulldogs, with DeMoor joining the team during their sophomore year. They have been through lean years and multiple coaches, and they are now the leaders of a team whose members mostly are a couple of years younger than them. It has made for an interesting journey, Peterson said.
“It’s been weird going year to year, team-wise,” he said. “My freshman year, we had a decent-sized team, then sophomore year it was tiny. Last year we had, like, six kids and then more than that half the time, and this year, we’re back to almost a full team.”
Through the past three seasons, however, the two have been a constant on the team, along with a few others who have made it worthwhile. DeMoor credits wrestling for making it easy to bond with his teammates.
“I think it’s been an awesome time,” he said about his years at MCHS. “You can bond with people in a different way. Brayden and Brady (Springer) and Kayla (Hall, the team’s former manager) while she was here, they’re like your family.”
Being captains and leaders as seniors has presented the pair with a new challenge this season, one that at times has been hard to embrace.
“We definitely have to put up with (the younger teammates) sometimes,” Peterson said. “They make you mad sometimes because you think they could be doing things a better way. But we’ll talk with each other about how we should deal with them and how to keep them interested. Because even though we’re seniors and we won’t be back, you still want them to come back.”
“You want to be able to come back and watch wrestling and say you were a part of that,” DeMoor added.
Both seniors are tireless workers and competitive to a fault while on the mat. They each plan to wrestle several more times in the coming weekends at the 3A regional and state tournaments. But Friday figures to be a special night for them anyway.
“It’s the last time we’ll get to wrestle here,” Peterson said. “It’s one of the last times I’ll wrestle, period. But it’s pretty cool because we’ve had a lot of people come to our first two (duals) this year, and we didn’t have many at home in my first three years. I hope a lot of people come again. It’s gonna be pretty fun.”
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.