After strapping on a red ankle band, Ethen Robson took a deep breath, shook hands with his opponent and promptly scored a pin victory. The nine-year-old then peered toward the stands and grinned as local fans cheered.
"I like wrestling, beating people and pinning them," said Robson, who has been wrestling since he was four-years-old. "It's really neat to wrestle (in Dolores). I've been getting first here for the last three years."
Robson was one of 277 wrestlers between the ages of four and 14 that attended the Dolores Peewee Wrestling Tournament at Dolores High School on March 28. Ten teams hailing from Utah, Colorado and New Mexico attended the longstanding tournament, which began at 9 a.m. and lasted throughout the day.
Among the Dolores wrestlers who finished first in their respective divisions were River Wickstrom, Ian Begay, Kadin Johnson, Tristan Laird, Ayden Sanders, Evan Woody, Nicholas Lee and Ethen Robson.
Forty-one wrestlers from the Dolores peewee club wrestled and 33 of them placed in the top-four.
"It's just kind of fun that you get to beat up a bunch of people," said 12-year-old Seth Tanner, who placed third in his division. "I try to stay off my knees and try to keep my arms at my side so (my opponents) don't attack."
One of the tournament's most exciting matches of the day came courtesy of Dolores peewee club members Xayvier Foster and Alex Sanders. After battling to a 2-2 tie after three periods of what turned out to a technically sound match, Sanders scored a takedown in overtime to win 4-2.
Although Foster was clearly disappointed after the loss, he went out of his way to congratulate Sanders departing the mat to refocus prior to his next match.
"Wrestling teaches a lot of life lessons," said Mike Taylor, who acts as an assistant coach for the Dolores peewee club. "Wrestlers learn about fortitude and how to deal with loss."
Eileen Eichner and George Eichner run the Dolores peewee club, which currently includes 48 members. Groups practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and attend numerous tournaments between March 7 and April 18.
Asked what he enjoys most about wrestling with the Dolores club, 12-year-old Trever Grooms said that he appreciates receiving input from his coaches and interacting with his teammates.
"I did not used to like wrestling, but I still did it," said Grooms. "Now I like it and it is very fun. I like listening to coaches, obeying them and trusting them."
Although members of the Dolores peewee wrestling club will not wrestle at home again this season, results from the club's remaining tournaments will be posted online at www.doloresstar.com.