Moffat County wrestlers sizing up competition to start season
Moffat County High School varsity wrestling 2018-19 schedule
After a stretch of senior-heavy seasons, the Moffat County High School wrestling program will be on the younger side this winter. Even so, the squad of grapplers is small but mighty.
Head coach: Dusty Vaughn
Vaughn was hired in July for the head coach position, replacing Dennis Fredrickson, who in turn replaced Tanner Linsacum. The third coach for the team in as many years, Vaughn is originally from Montrose and has coached at Alamosa High School and California’s Lassen Community College.
With seven senior wrestlers graduating in May 2018 and one senior-to-be moving before the school year, Vaughn has overseen a drastically different group, one that’s packed with young talent albeit lacking in the higher weights.
“We’re young, but we have a lot of leaders on this team,” he said. “We have a lot of rebuilding and a lot of growth to do this season. So far the kids that are out, it’s been a super-positive environment, and kids are starting to gel.”
A strong season last year for the Bulldogs included 2018 graduates Miki Klimper and Elias Peroulis as regional champions while the varsity team was the regional runner-up. All told, the group saw 11 athletes qualify for the 3A CHSAA State Championships, with Klimper and Peroulis placing second and fourth, respectively, in their weight classes. The group was 10th among 3A schools.
2018-19 seniors: Isiaih Herod, Greg Hixson
Isiaih Herod — Herod finished the previous season with a 24-13 record, complete with a trip to state after placing fourth in the 3A Region 3 Meet’s 126-pound bracket. With one dozen Bulldogs placing at regionals, he and his 11 teammates all gained All-Conference distinctions.
Greg Hixson — A difficult junior year had Hixson at 11-16, fourth at the regional event and representing the Dogs at state at the 160 class. After missing the whole of football season due to knee surgery over the summer, he’ll be starting his senior wrestling year slowly as he continues to recuperate. He’ll likely sit out the first few events, with plans to make an entrance at the Warrior Classic in mid-December.
Key returners: Daniel Caddy, Blake Juergens, Dagan White
Daniel Caddy — Caddy’s 34-11 sophomore season was full of achievement, including being the only non-senior to make it to the finals of the regional tourney, ultimately placing second in the 138 division. As the only member of the team to make it to state more than once, he’s looking to make it to the podium again and again throughout the winter.
Blake Juergens — Juergens was the lone freshman last year to compete at the 3A Region 3 Meet and was more than up to the challenge. A 3-3 run at regionals gave him fifth place in the 113 results, just short of making state. Nevertheless, he’ll be on the hunt to improve on his 12-10 record with a fresh start.
Dagan White — After a broken nose early in the season provided an obstacle, White came back fiercer than ever at the Dogs’ lightest weight, 106. Though he took the bronze at regionals, he was ready and raring to go at state and was the only lowerclassman to claim a win in the opening round at the Pepsi Center, ending the season 21-10.
“I couldn’t be happier to have the group of seniors and juniors I do to pave the way for these freshmen coming in,” Vaughn said. “These kids have been around a bit, and they can help some of our youngsters a lot.”
MCHS wrestling will be the first winter team to host home events, and this week will see the Bulldogs provide an exhibition match, the Blue and White Duals, as teammates compete against one another in one of their few rounds in the Moffat County gym.
The meet takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday at MCHS.
The group also will host a Dec. 4 triangular meet with Steamboat Springs and Coal Ridge, while Saturday is the first of three straight weekends in Grand Junction as varsity sees a run of teams at the Maverick Duals at Colorado Mesa University. The JV wrestlers will travel the same day to an Olathe tourney.
Dec. 8 will be the Grand Junction High School Tiger Duals, followed by the Warrior Classic the next weekend. Vaughn said he hopes his athletes will be tasked with some resolute competition to get them prepped for the months to come.
“We want to wrestle at the highest level,” he said.
The small roster is a likely indicator that the Dogs will have to battle to the end for every point they can this season, Vaughn added, though he anticipates grapplers will give their all.
“We’re going to take our lumps, sure, but I expect that the guys we have in the fight are going to fight hard,” he said.