Fri Feb 7th, 2014
Special to the Drum
Dressed to “class the place up a bit,” John Gurule still looked sharp in red as his new wrestling charges prepared to tangle with non-league 3A Bayfield inside BHS Gymnasium on January 30th.
He’d never lost a dual match to a Wolverine as a grappler, and wasn’t planning to do so – and ultimately did not, by a 57-11 margin–in his first go-round as a prep-level varsity head coach. Not with his high school alma mater, Ignacio, but rather the Class 4A Durango Demons.
“Well, coming off Top of the Rockies [Jan. 24-25, at Lafayette’s Centaurus H.S.] – that was a nationally-competitive tournament with four states represented – we took it on the chin,” said Gurule, a 2003 Ignacio graduate, and State-qualifying heavyweight as a junior and senior. “We came back working on three things: Compete, wrestle, and being aggressive. And I feel like we accomplished those tonight.”
Now entering the final month of his first season on the job, taking over for predecessor Doug Cuddie, Gurule said getting the gig was nothing complicated.
“Oh I applied, just like everybody else,” he said. “Went through a selection process, interviewed…and was fortunately chosen to represent the Durango community at their high school.”
A Western State College Mountaineer football player in Gunnison after exiting IHS’ halls, Gurule later acquired a taste in mixed-martial arts action, and has gained training at Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Jackson’s Martial Arts & Fitness Academy – a dojo for known names including Colorado-bred fighters Shane Carwin (Greeley West H.S.; former interim UFC Heavyweight Champion) and Nate Marquardt (Wheat Ridge H.S.; former UFC middleweight contender, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion).
Now happy to be a sensei of sorts himself, Gurule has only this weekend’s Southwestern League Duals meet at Montezuma-Cortez and next weekend’s 4A-Region IV Championships in Montrose to see if his instruction and dedication – learned at various levels of the sport and athletics in general – will help take one or more grapplers out of the weight room and into the State Championships’ weigh-in rooms.
An experience he undoubtedly still relishes to this day, never forgetting where he came from.
“I’m a proud alumni of Ignacio High School, and I’ll support them to the end,” he stated. “As long as they’re not going up against my boys! But I’ll definitely be in the area … watching the action and helping out in any way I can.”
RECOGNIZED: Also a former WSC gridiron great [as in twice an All-American] Carwin and Mountaineer track-and-field/cross-country great Elva Martinez-Dryer were honored as part of the NCAA Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team at the NCAA Convention in San Diego, Calif., January 12-18.
Carwin was the D-II heavyweight champ in 1999 and a three-time All-American wrestler for Western, and still holds program records for career pins, season pins and quickest pin.
The Tribute Team highlighted one male and one female from each of the 23 current D-II conferences, plus two at-large nominees, with Western being one of only three schools – out of more than 300 current and former Division II institutions – with two student-athletes on the Tribute Team.