Wrestling tradition begins at Craig Middle School
Moffat County High School wrestling Coach Roman Gutierrez was the middle of the mat demonstrating the proper way to throw a single leg, using high school wrestler Kyle Kostur as his partner.
Though the high school season is over, there are still skills to be taught and wrestlers to learn them.
It is the beginning of a new season for the Craig Middle School Bullpup’s, and all the familiar faces from Moffat County High wrestling team in the CMS wrestling room it is easy to see why the middle school is so dominate on the Western slope.
The mats are scattered with young grapplers from fifth to eight grade, all rehearsing take-downs, pins and escapes until it becomes second nature.
Though the only kids who will compete for the Bullpups are the seventh and eight graders, the younger boys starting on the road to becoming part of Moffat County’s blue and white pinning machine.
On the walls of the wrestling room are the badges of the middle school’s supremacy. Twelve consecutive years worth of district championships hang, as do a host of names of former Bullpups who defended their title for two years worth of middle school competitions. They are names that are familiar to the high school Ty Weber, Kyle Kostur and Cody Fredrickson.
All have younger brothers who hope to have their names hanging with their mentors.
“We work on the basics here, and try to give the boys the tools to be successful when they reach high school,” head coach Don Guffy said. Guffy is also the junior varsity coach for the Bulldogs.
The other coach for the Bullpups is no stranger to the mats either, Burke Wynkoop is a 24-year veteran of Western Slope wrestling, coaching for 12 years and officiating for 12.
“I even seem to remember refereeing some of Roman’s matches when he was a Meeker Cowboy,” Wynkoop said.
Besides having an able coaching garrison, there are a number of Moffat County wrestlers who volunteer their time to continue the tradition of excellence that Craig and Moffat County are know for. Among the high school grapplers who showed up for Wednesday’s CMS practice were Kostur, Brandon Duarte, and Mark Hastings.
CMS held it’s annual invitational tournament Saturday. Among the invitees were Meeker, Rangely, Fruita, Montrose, Hayden, SoRoCo, East and West Grand Junction, and North Park.
The tournament gave the Bullpups an outstanding chance to display their dominance and do exactly what the coach wants them to wrestle a lot.
“Everybody got to wrestle at least five matches this weekend. Usually the kids only get one or two,” Guffy said. “This is what we want, as many matches as we can get for them.”
The CMS boys fared well in the tournament which was split up by grades. The seventh graders finished third in the tournament which Montrose won, and the eighth graders place first.
This will be the only tournament which the two grades will be split by grades. During the regular season, the boys will have to compete by weight, regardless of age.
“That’s why last weekend’s tournament is so good for our younger kids, it gave them a chance to start the season against kid their own age,” Guffy said. “From now on it’s going to get tough there’s a lot of difference, both mentally and physically, in that one year of maturity.”
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