Young, diverse wrestling team builds experience for state
February 3, 2012
The Moffat County wrestling team is a little different this year. Freshman Ashlee Griffiths, the only female wrestler, has joined the team. Griffiths says, "When I started on the team it was a little weird but it turned out to be a big family. I was accepted to the team because they knew I was here to stay." Her brother, Charlie Griffiths, also wrestled for the team in the 2010-2011 school year.
Ashlee Griffiths started wrestling when she was five years old on a traveling team. As for how she got started, Griffiths said, "My brother was wrestling, so I just did it."
Griffiths wrestles both females and males within the league. Females from Grand Valley, Palisade and Oak Creek participate in this wrestling league. "People underestimate what I can do because I am a girl, but it doesn't really turn out that way." The wrestlers Griffiths faces think that that she cannot wrestle as well as the guys, but her record says otherwise. Head coach Roman Gutierrez said, "They all respect her and she has one of the best records on the team." At the Eagle Valley Tournament Griffiths went undefeated with a 6-0 record.
Gutierrez said the team is a challenge this year because they are really inexperienced and young. He isn't sure who might emerge as the strongest wrestler because the team is still so young. Griffiths is right up there competing with the boys for the top spot. There are four other wrestlers on the team consisting of two sophomores, one junior, and one senior. As the team participates in more tournaments and duels, they grow as wrestlers and stronger as a team.
Coach Roman Gutierrez has been coaching for 30 years at Moffat County High School. Gutierrez stated that he coaches because he enjoys the kids and wants to give back what his coach gave to him. "While I was wrestling in high school, my coach had me help with the junior high kids and he thought that I would have a profession in teaching. After high school, I went to Western State for college and I majored in elementary and physical education," said Coach Gutierrez. He says that his favorite part of being a coach is that he can see the kids improve, but his least favorite part is having a young team. It makes it harder on the kids and on the coaches who have to get them prepared for the state tournament.
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Gutierrez says that while his team is made up of are typical high school kids, on the mat they become focused athletes. "With such a young team we just want the kids to improve during the season and to get as many kids to state as we can," said Gutierrez. The team may have had a hard start, but they are picking up the pace as they position themselves for the state tournament.