Beef up the Bulldogs |

Beef up the Bulldogs

— I could sit and talk wrestling with Moffat County wrestling coach Roman Gutierrez all day.

His knowledge and stories are fun for me.

The idea for this column didn’t come out of a conversation with Gutierrez, but the final thoughts came together after we sat down this week to talk about his career.

“I will be disappointed if we don’t get back to the top three (in the state) again next year,” he said. “But for that to happen our guys have to find the weight room.”

Eureka! I had been considering a column about the need for stronger wrestlers.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

I hesitated to write a column about the need for beefier Bulldogs because I see smaller Bulldogs beat stronger opponents all the time.

With minimal effort, I could think of five Bulldog state-placers who weren’t nearly as chiseled as the opponents they beat up on.

Most of the time those wins came because of experience — not because of strength.

So was this year’s performance explained by a lack of experience or a lack of strength?

I couldn’t decide.

Gutierrez said it’s a little bit of both.

“Next year, our whole team will have experience,” he said. “It takes a combination of technique, experience and strength. We’ll already have the first two.”

The 2006-07 version of the Moffat wrestling team is going to have depth and experience. Whenever that’s the case for a team coached by Gutierrez/Ron Linsacum/Don Guffy, it means success. But at this point in time, there needs to be some more muscle in the wrestling room.

If Levi Weber and Cody Norman return from this year’s injuries, the Bulldogs will have an abundance of wrestlers from the 119 to 140 weight classes.

The more talented eighth-graders coming up are smaller too, which will add to the congestion in the lower weights.

The way I see it, some of those guys need to throw a lot of hay, work for a landscaper that specializes in rock or establish a lifting program for the next nine months.

If four or five of those guys can move up several weights, particularly to replace departing seniors Korey Kostur (145) and Daniel Cramblett (152), the team will be strong physically and in the rankings.

From 160 pounds and up, there is no question the Bulldogs we saw this year will benefit from more strength.

With the exception of Nick Navratil, it was rare for the Bulldogs’ upper-weight wrestlers to be the stronger wrestler.

I understand that they’re all underclassmen. For their sake, my hope is that they don’t expect to succeed next year only because of the week of wrestling camp in the summer and the four months of the high school season.

To me, last year marked the end of the momentum (and comparisons) from the three consecutive state title teams in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This year was the start of a new era.

Next year, that era will be near its pinnacle for the Bulldogs.

They’ll have six returning Bulldogs (I’m counting previous qualifiers Weber and McAlexander) with state experience, as well as four guys who finished one win from state this year.

The current juniors’ improvement will determine whether Gutierrez will be disappointed or not. They’re the ones who need to take the leadership in the off-season. Gutierrez also thinks they need to build up some aggression.

“Everybody’s just too nice in our weight room,” he said. “They need to beat up on each other more in the practice room. We need some guys to get mean.”

Maybe after this column I can go up to the wrestling room next year and let them beat up on me. … I better hit the weights this summer, too.

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