Craig youth wrestling team back on the mats for new season |

Craig youth wrestling team back on the mats for new season

Bad Dogs Youth Wrestling coach Dennis Piatt demonstrates a technique with assistance from Miki Klimper on Thursday in the Moffat County High School wrestling room. The team for youths from Northwest Colorado began its season last weekend.
Nate Waggenspack

Upcoming tournament

What: Bad Dogs home tournament

When: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. sessions Saturday

Where: Craig Middle School gym

— Another Bad Dogs season has begun, and the youth wrestling team is looking to keep its tradition of excellence going.

The Bad Dogs, which is made up of wrestlers from preschools through middle schools across Northwest Colorado, has a season from late fall through spring, and the athletes work hard the entire time. At the start of each practice, every member works through a conditioning routine that would have plenty of teenagers huffing and puffing, but it’s all part of the Bad Dogs program.

“We focus on the conditioning so that they’re not gassed and winded through their matches,” coach Dennis Piatt said.

Miki Klimper, an eighth-grader and the senior member of the team, attributes much of his wrestling success to the program and the concentration on being fit.

“This program has done the most for me,” Klimper said. “It’s taught me so much and got me to where I am today. The conditioning (is the difference), all the conditioning we do to keep us in shape so we win the third period and overtime.”

But the Bad Dogs coaches also teach wrestling technique in an effort to prepare wrestlers for what they hope will be long careers.

“We mostly work on fundamentals and technique, the things they’re going to have to know and have perfected by high school,” Piatt said. “We try to focus on fun, so they don’t get worn out. The tournaments are part of that fun and a way to test their skill.”

The results of that coaching style, starting children early and putting them ahead of the curve, have been huge in Western Slope wrestling at the high school level. Last season, freshman T.J. Shelton was a state champion at Meeker, and Moffat County freshman Issic Herod was a state qualifier. Both were Bad Dogs as youth wrestlers.

Many of the current freshmen wrestlers also spent time as Bad Dogs.

“This is to get them to love the sport and have them want to do it,” Piatt said. “Most of our kids have an older brother or sister who’s been a wrestler, so they want to be one, too.”

The team already wrestled at its first tournament, the Bald Eagle Bash in Gypsum, last weekend. The team will host a tournament at Craig Middle School on Saturday and keep working through the winter.

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or

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