Moffat County girls wrestling team underway for inaugural season |

Moffat County girls wrestling team underway for inaugural season

Moffat County girls wrestling coach Ashleigh Seely works with athletes on their technique.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Moffat County has officially begun a girls wrestling program as part of the increasing interest in the sport across the state.

Though the Bulldogs have had female wrestlers in the past, this will be the first season the school has fielded an all-girls squad.

Moffat County wrestler Kenleigh Pubanz has Rylie Dschaak in a headlock as they practice their holds.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

“When we first started looking to add girls wrestling, I was thinking it’d be around six or seven or so, but then we had a good showing and had a dozen sign up initially,” said MCHS athletic director Jim Wright. “Now we’re at about 20 so far. It’s growing and it’s awesome.”

“I’m just glad to get the wheels moving on it,” he continued. “(We’re also) really glad to find a coach, especially a female coach, who has some wrestling background. Knowledge of the sport is key.”

Ashleigh Seely will be overseeing the team, which will include athletes from Craig, Meeker and Hayden.

Besides working as a personal trainer with Trapper Fitness and training in jiu-jitsu, Seely has a long history with wrestling in her family and has advised female competitors with the Bad Dogs Wrestling program. She’s also worked with the existing wrestling team on nutrition plans, a factor she plans to bring to her new role.

“My focus is fundamentals, focus and fuel; fundamentally, we will be well polished,” Seely said. “We will eat correctly, cut correctly and hydrate correctly. If we perfect those three areas, I have no doubt we will have a tough team to beat. We have an incredible group of ladies eager to learn, and they are catching on very quickly.”

The Moffat County girls wrestling team gets moving during their warmups.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Some girls are wholly new to the sport, while others are coming into it with considerable experience.

MoCo senior Makaela Simpson competed as part of the Soroco girls wrestling team last season, finishing fifth at the CHSAA State Championships in the first year where the boys and girls brackets ran concurrently. She also was instrumental in getting the Bulldogs girls team organized for this winter.

“I definitely pressured the AD into really trying for a team this year, and he made it happen,” Simpson said.

While she enjoyed competing with Soroco, she was pleased to be able to bring together more girls in Craig.

“There’s a lot of girls from everywhere now. These are girls I go to school with or girls I’d seen last year at tournaments. I think it’ll be good for all of us,” she said. “We’ve got some good matchups in here, looking forward to seeing how far we can go.”

Moffat County girls wrestlers take to the mat for one of their early practices.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Now that the team is active, Simpson is preparing to finish out her senior year with a bang.

“I need to work on my technique to get where I want to be by the end of the year,” she said. “I definitely need to get faster on my shots. My big goal is to get to state again and place in the top three.”

She added that CHSAA expanding girls weight classes from 10 to 14 doesn’t hurt either, as she feels the new system suits her better.

Seely said she is particularly excited for the season ahead as a way to build up the athletes on her team mentally, physically and emotionally to further improve their quality of life.

“Having this team will mean ladies who have wanted to try wrestling now have an opportunity among an all-female team closer to home,” she said. “It means being part of a team of ladies instead of being meshed with the boys.

“It means the growth of the sport and growth as young women who may qualify to receive scholarships they may not have had the opportunity to if they had not decided to wrestle. It means young women can show strength and confidence in a way they don’t normally get to. I believe it’s an important opportunity for growth in many areas for these girls who may not necessarily fit into the traditional female sports.”

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