Moffat County wrestlers work their way through Tiger Duals, prep for Warrior Classic
A long day against five bigger schools was a grueling event for Moffat County High School wrestlers was a test of talent for the Bulldogs, but with each challenge comes the chance to improve for the biggest tournament yet at the end of the calendar year.
The Grand Junction Tiger Duals were a 1-4 day in terms of team scores for a group that was somewhat of an underdog, yet individual effort was at its peak.
“We knew it was going to be a hammer of a tournament, and we were looking for kids to be listening to coaches and be putting in their best effort each match. That’s the name of the game,” said head coach Dusty Vaughn. “One thing you can control is how hard you work out there, and we’re really happy with that expectation of working hard and busting their butts, not giving up.”
MoCo was coming off a Friday night defeat in Hotchkiss, a rematch against another set of Bulldogs that MCHS had beaten in the Maverick Duals.
Hotchkiss had the bench this time to edge past Moffat in points, 42-35, yet the blue Dogs had it over their crimson doppelgangers. in actual competition, 4-3 in contested matches.
Hotchkiss claimed three forfeits at open weights compared to Craig’s three and were helped along by three pins over the visiting team.
At the 106-pound slot, Caden Call earned a fall, while major decisions went to Kalub West (132) at 16-6 and Greg Hixson (170) at 18-4. Daniel Caddy (145) kept it closer yet won 10-3 over JD Miller to remain undefeated.
Caddy’s streak continued with a 5-0 day at the duals complete with three pins, Vaughn said.
“He’s really setting the pace for the team, beat some really tough wrestlers Saturday and did it in a Moffat County way,” Vaughn said.
After a loss Friday in the first match of his senior season, 132’s Isiaih Herod was back in good form at 3-2 in Grand Junction, while fellow upperclassman Hixson was 2-1 before he had to come off the mat with an injury.
“Greg, you know you’re going to get his best effort, and he’s a good example for our team,” Vaughn said.
An issue with Trackwrestling.com afflicted the Tiger Duals’ online scoring, though Vaughn said he was less concerned with the final scoreboard than other elements.
Among the opponents were the reigning 5A state champions, the Grand Junction Tigers, who ended with the win, but Dogs kept it close at 47-33 in the opening match of the morning.
Moffat fell 54-30 to Eagle Valley, which Vaughn noted is a roster heavy with seniors. Against Northglenn, Vaughn said Bulldogs won six of 10 contests, but lost due to 24 points in forfeits.
“Fruita (Monument) was probably the toughest one we had in match-ups,” Vaughn said. “We did a lot of learning on that one.”
The final dual of the day was against Glenwood Springs, which MCHS won easily at 57-15.
Vaughn said he saw growth in every grappler, among them his younger athletes.
Despite struggling early on, sophomore Blake Juergens (126) exploded late in the day to surprise Vaughn with two pins.
“He figured stuff and got a little tougher, and I think he got fed up with having a couple losses,” Vaughn said
Freshmen Call and Hunter Fredrickson (113) gained falls against Grand Junction that delighted their coach. Vaughn added that the lower weights can sometimes see older but smaller wrestlers who dominate against kids in their first year of high school.
“Caden barely weighs 100 pounds, but he’s stepping out there and doesn’t back down from no one. He’s hustling and fighting hard,” Vaughn said. “Kalub West had an 8-10 match with the seventh-ranked wrestler in the state. He lost, but wow, as a freshman, that was a hell of a match.”
While varsity had their hands full at the Tiger Duals, a JV tournament was abuzz in Rifle, with all four attending Moffat County kids placing and ranking fifth as a group.
Coltyn Terry won the 138 class with two pins and a technical fall, Ryan Duzik claimed the crown in 126 with three falls, one of which only took 17 seconds, and the last of which came against teammate Colton Jones in the finals, who likewise pinned his first two foes.
Anthony Duran (120) went 4-1 to place third with three pins.
MCHS wrestling travels Wednesday to a dual in Basalt, which will lead them back into another Grand Junction weekend at Central High School’s two-day Warrior Classic, a tourney that attracts dozens of teams including those from out of state.
The format will be a switch from team duals as the larger pool of opponents could lead to some surprises, Vaughn said.
“That’s a long-standing tournament with a tradition of excellence,” he said. “With duals, it kind of puts the magnifying glass on our athletes because we get to watch them as a team but in a very individual manner. It can help identify any issues they’re having and things you need to fix. In a tournament format, that changes. Hopefully they work hard, prepare well. I hope they show up and make it happen.”
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Moffat County wrestling will send four wrestlers to the 3A state tournament March 12-13 following an impressive two-day showing at the 3A Region 1 tournament at Pagosa Springs Friday and Saturday.