Gutierrez, Mortensen earn state recognition
Awards distinguish top achievement in high school athletics
Two Moffat County High School coaches received recognition Friday for leading teams that have attained success through their commitment to athletics.
MCHS head wrestling coach Roman Gutierrez and head girls basketball coach Craig Mortensen each received a Level 4 Achievement Award from the Colorado Coaches Association.
“In wrestling, you have to achieve a certain number of first- and second-regional or state places.
You have to have a total of 18 top two placings in order to earn
this level in our sport,” Gutierrez said.
The award is designed to recognize coaches for developing first-class teams in all areas of high school athletics.
“It’s a goal that the kids achieve. Of course the coach gets the award, but it is a team effort. I’ll never
say anything different because without Ron Linsacum and Don Guffy and the kids that we’ve had, you wouldn’t receive this award,” Gutierrez said.
“It is an honor to achieve that level, which is, I guess you would say, the highest level in your coaching profession. It’s neat to be recognized for that, and it’s neat to have two coaches from the same school win it.”
Gutierrez knows well the feeling of winning awards as he heads into the upcoming season, having led his team to three consecutive state championship titles.
“I think as a coach, you are always trying to get your teams to place as high as possible in any meet that you can,” he said. “Fortunately we’ve been able to do well at both the regional and state levels.
“But, there’s a lot that goes into being successful good coaches, good athletes and good parents. It’s fun, because I think our program is one of the last that I can see around that works as hard as they do. The kids just believe that hard work will compensate for lack of ability and they are just willing to put out the effort. As long as kids are willing to do that, good things will happen for them.”
And, after coaching for more than 20 years, Gutierrez said he is comfortable with what he sees after this summer’s camp.
“Next year, looking at what we have coming back, I feel real good” the coach said. “A lot of people probably didn’t realize how good our JV team was. I feel that if we can stay injury-free, the 14 kids that we put out on the mat will be very tough to beat. And I’m not going to say that we will be the state champions, but that trophy isn’t something that these kids are willing to give up very easily,” he said.
Mortensen has tasted his share of victory in his 26 years of coaching
“To win this award in basketball, you have to get 335 wins in your career and it doesn’t matter what school you are at,” he said. “We’ve had a really good last couple of years here.”
But, like Gutierrez, Mortensen said he realizes that the awards aren’t possible without teamwork.
“You aren’t going to win anything unless you have great kids who are committed to being great athletes,” Mortensen said. “Any time you have a good committed kid, you have a parent who really cares about it and a community that really cares. It’s like life, somebody always gets singled out, but it has to be attributed to everyone.”
Mortensen said he looks forward to another excellent season.
“We have some very good returning players,” Mortensen said. “We really had a good summer of basketball and we’ll have a good successful team. I don’t think we’ll be the favorite to win the league like we have been in the past couple of years, but we’ll do well.”
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