GJ's Trujillo, Fruita's Rodriguez could meet in state wrestling final
They qualified for the state wrestling tournament as freshmen, and it only made them hungrier.
Grand Junction High School’s Jacob Trujillo and Fruita Monument’s Isaac Rodriguez worked even harder in the offseason.
Two weeks after the wrestling season ended last year, Trujillo started working out twice a day, four days a week.
They wrestled in several individual and club tournaments, piling up more matches in between the high school seasons than they did during the season.
The two have wrestled in the same weight class, 145 pounds, this season and enter the Class 5A State Championships today at the Pepsi Center in Denver on a possible collision course in Saturday’s finals.
“That would be great (to meet Trujillo in the finals),” said Rodriguez, whose record is 25-5 this season. “It would be a tough match, but I’ve got to treat it like any other match. That’s what I’m hoping happens — to meet in the finals.
“My goal is to place as high as I can and hopefully take the gold home. It’s going to be hard, but I’ve got to keep going and not give up.”
The last time two School District 51 wrestlers met in the state finals was 1992 when Grand Junction’s Richard Valdez defeated Fruita Monument’s Lucas Archuleta 3-1 for the Class 5A 130-pound title at McNichols Sports Arena. Both were seniors.
“Having two kids from the Western Slope in the state finals would give the Western Slope more respect,” Trujillo said.
Rodriguez and Trujillo have grown up wrestling in the valley and remember facing each other a couple of times in youth wrestling.
“I saw him in middle school,” Trujillo said of Rodriguez. “He was better than other kids around here I wrestled.”
This season, Trujillo (42-0) started the season ranked No. 1 by On the Mat and has remained the guy to beat. He pinned his first 18 opponents. The streak ended against Rodriguez in the Jackpot Duals’ 145-pound championship. Trujillo defeated Rodriguez 4-1.
“I think we brought a lot to this community for sure,” Rodriguez said. “I have had some of the older people compliment us for putting on good matches.”
The Jackpot Duals match was the first time the two wrestled against each other since middle school.
They met again three weeks later in a dual at Fruita Monument. Trujillo triumphed 7-3.
“Other kids (at school) respect him and know him,” Trujillo said of Rodriguez. “A lot of kids ask when I will wrestle him, or the score of our matches.”
They both reached the region final last weekend, but Rodriguez (25-5), ranked fourth in state, defaulted as Wildcats coach Dan Van Hoose decided to rest Rodriguez and get his knee as healthy as possible for state.
“I’m not putting any thought into the Trujillo-Isaac round three, whatever you want to call it,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “I expect us to be there. If (Rodriguez) wants a part in that match, he’ll do his job. There are a lot of tough kids in that bracket. To look one round ahead gets you in trouble, much less three. That goes for both of us. I hope (Rodriguez) makes it, though.”
Trujillo said he’s only concerned with his first-round match against Adams City sophomore Jozef McClure (31-11).
“It falls however it falls,” Trujillo said. “I know my first match, but after that I don’t know who’s going to win.”
He has No. 2-ranked Torry Williams of Ponderosa in his half of the bracket.
Rodriguez opens with Arapahoe senior Joey Laratta (35-8). Third-ranked Alec Wyatt of Prairie View and fifth-ranked Derrik Ortiz of Pine Creek also are in his half of the bracket.