Bad Dog wrestling team headed to Rocky Mountain Nationals |

Bad Dog wrestling team headed to Rocky Mountain Nationals

John Vandelinder

Through its first five meets, the Bad Dogs wrestling team has pretty much overwhelmed the competition, leaving many fallen opponents in its wake.

Not much has stood in the way, as the team easily captured the top spot in the Inter Mountain League season (the first of three seasons the team will participate in), which ended Dec. 13 in Palisade.

Friday is when the season takes on a whole different look.

The Bad Dogs compete Friday and Saturday in the year’s biggest event to date, when the team hits the mats in the Rocky Mountain Nationals, Who’s Bad? Wrestling tournament at the National Western Complex in Denver.

“It’s one of the biggest events for us,” Bad Dogs founder Billy Bingham said. “There will be teams from other states – usually all-star teams – and teams from other countries. And then there is little old us, from Craig.”

Although the Bad Dogs are the little team from Craig, they pack a big punch.

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Nine Bad Dogs had yet to lose a match heading into Palisade two weeks ago, and five others have just one defeat to their name.

“We have some kids that I think can do really well,” Bingham said, “I think we could have five or six that could place in the top six or eight. Any more than that is just icing on the cake.”

The Bad Dogs have become known for their aggressive wrestling style – a trait Bingham said he relishes – but it’s not just wins and losses he’s interested in when the team hits the mats Friday.

“It’s more about getting the new kids experience,” he said. “At opening ceremonies, there are at least 5,000 people there. It’s really cool to see the new kids’ faces when they walk into the arena and see how big it is. That’s something they have to experience before they can take the next step.”

Twenty full-size mats will dominate the Western Complex’s floor, calling out to the 29 Bad Dogs making the trip.

“Of course I would love to go in there and win everything,” Bingham said. “But, it’s going to be tough. You’re not going to see one single zinger match, or what I call powder puff kids. From the first match, these kids are going to be tested.”

The “family event,” as labeled by Bingham, offers the team members a great chance to bond with one another, as well as other wrestlers from around the country and even the globe.

“It’s like one big family,” Bingham said of those who attend the tournament. “It’s really cool to see the kids make new friends with other kids from all over the place. At this level of wrestling, everybody gets a long with everybody.”

That is, until the competitors hit the mat.

When the whistle sounds to start a match, friendships, family and fun go right out the window.

That’s when it becomes time to find out who’s bad.

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or