Mesa State College is bringing wrestling back as a varsity sport in style.
Legendary wrestler and wrestling coach Dan Gable will be in Grand Junction for a dinner and clinic Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets for the Saturday dinner are $75 and are almost sold out, university officials said. Registration is open for the clinic. The clinic is $20 and is being held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Saunders Field House.
Hayden wrestling coach Ty Zabel couldn't emphasize enough what a big deal it was that Gable was coming to western Colorado.
"He's, like, the No. 1 guru of wrestling," he said. "He's the top dog."
Gable, now an assistant to the director of athletics in charge of performance and enhancement at the University of Iowa, won the 1976 Olympic gold medal without surrendering a point.
In his final 21 Olympic qualification and Olympic matches, he scored 12 falls and outscored his nine opponents, 130-1.
While coach of the Hawkeyes, his teams won 21 consecutive Big Ten titles and nine straight NCAA Championships. In 1997, Iowa won its 17th NCAA crown, scoring an NCAA-record 170 team points during the three-day tournament.
His Iowa wrestlers were known for their conditioning levels and offensive aggressiveness on the mat, traits teams such as Moffat County and Meeker, both recent state champions, have adopted.
Former Iowa wrestler Tom Brands has been to Craig to put on a clinic, as well.
"We tell kids we want to hurt the other guy, not to injure him, but to make them not want to wrestle any more," Moffat County coach Roman Gutierrez said. "It's a street-fight type of wrestling."
Gable compiled a jaw-dropping record of 182-1 in high school and college. He was a three-time All-American and three-time Big Eight Champion at Iowa State University. His only loss came in his final collegiate match in the NCAA finals.
All proceeds from the Satur--day dinner and the Sunday clinic will benefit the Mesa State wrestling program, which will begin next year.
The reintroduction of wrest--ling at Mesa State will give West--ern Slope athletes another school to look at. Now, Western State College is the only school to offer wrestling.
"Now, they will have an opportunity to go to either one," Gutierrez said. "There are so many kids that go to Mesa, to have that opportunity to wrestle again will help collegiately."