Seasoned coaches, returning state qualifiers set up Moffat County wrestling for success
In the wrestling room at Moffat County High School, there’s a sense among the Bulldogs of getting right back to where they were last year.
Part of that comes from the upperclassmen, who know what they need to do to get in gear for the upcoming season, but another part of it is thanks to a smooth transition during a change in leadership.
Bulldogs wrestlers will be under different supervision this season, but their new coach is not an unfamiliar face. Mark Voloshin is in his 17th year coaching the sport in Moffat County, his first year heading up the high school team, and has worked as an assistant in recent years, as well as leading the middle school program and overseeing pee-wee athletes.
Voloshin a product of the Bulldogs and a member of the 1985 state champion team. He wrestled on a scholarship at University of Wyoming and was a three-time qualifier for the NCAA national tournament.
“I love the sport, always have,“ he said. ”Getting that knowledge and experience, that’s what I want these kids to have.”
Voloshin said Craig is the kind of place that fosters an activity like wrestling and the self-discipline that comes with it.
“This area has always really liked the sport and has really excelled in it,” he said. “There’s a lot of community support for it and a lot of networking that come together for it.”
He said he and fellow coaches Chad Lawton and Brayden Peterson don’t anticipate changing much from what they were doing under previous head coach Tyler Seislove.
“We work on all aspects of wrestling every day — strength, conditioning and technique,” Voloshin said.
Summer clinics and open gym sessions have given the team a head start staying sharp and engaged.
“There’s a bunch of kids who played football this year. Those two sports go hand in hand,” Voloshin said. “A lot of coaches are outspoken about how they want to see their linemen wrestling.”
With about 30 boys on the team, the Bulldogs are led by three seniors — Kaden Hixson, Billy Lawton and Michael Voloshin.
Hixson has placed at state each of the last three years, while Michael Voloshin — one of four regional individual champs on a team that took first place in Class 3A Region 1 — got as far as the state semifinals last season, eventually placing fourth in his weight class.
Billy Lawton and juniors Eli Fredrickson and Blake Hill will also look to return to state this year.
“These coaches here have been with most of us since we were 4 or 5 years old,” Billy Lawton said. “They know all of us really good and what works with us, and they’ll teach us what will help us get on top of the podium at state.”
Some of the Bulldogs roster will be in for some shifts this winter, as CHSAA tweaks the weight classifications on the upper end. Classes from 106 to 138 pounds will stay the same, but above that, the classes will be 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285.
“I think it’ll be pretty good for our kids, but there’s other teams it might kind of hurt if they have bigger kids,” coach Voloshin said.
Competing at state in the 182-pound class last year, Billy Lawton will have adjust to the new rules even if he’s not thrilled about it.
“I kind of don’t like it because I still weigh right around there, so I’ll be giving up a lot of weight,” he said, adding that it would be hard for him to get down to 175 pounds.
Either way, he hopes to continue the example last year’s seniors set.
“We lost a lot of great guys last year, but there’s a lot of younger guys who are stepping up this year,” Billy Lawton said. “I think we’ll still be one of the top 10 teams in the state and do a lot of good things this year.”
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