Jackpot Duals to test local wrestlers’ ability

They call it the Jackpot Duals, and although there will be no slot machines or scratch tickets at Fruita Monument High School on Thursday, there will be wrestlers taking their tugs at Grand Valley bragging rights.

January is here, and as wrestlers come off the holidays, they’ll soon find out if they consumed too many saturated fats once they weigh in for the meet that features the Big Four: Central, Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade. The state tournament Feb. 16-18 is the final turn. The final-lap bell has almost sounded.

“It gets more serious for the kids and they get to the weights they want to be at,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “It’s also nice for the fans to see all four schools in the valley at once.”

The matches begin at 5:30 p.m. on two mats. Wrestlers will be seeded into four-man championship and consolation brackets.

Pairings could change if wrestlers don’t hit their anticipated weights, but likely matchups to look for include, at 126 pounds, Jacob Trujillo of Grand Junction, ranked No. 4 in Class 5A in the On the Mat Rankings, against Central’s Jacob Rubalcaba, ranked No. 10.

The 170-pound bracket is top-notch as well. Palisade’s Eddie Vial, ranked No. 7, could face Central’s Caleb Hendricks. The wrestlers split matches at the Warrior Classic, with Hendricks defeating Vial for third place. Both could run into Grand Junction’s Gage Casey, ranked No. 8.

Of course, the big names go on: Daniel Salazar (No. 1, 132 pounds), Justin Ray (No. 3, 126) and Dalton Hannigan (No. 4, 120) of Palisade; Dylon Thompson (No. 3, 138) and Jessie Hoffschneider (No. 2, 160) of Grand Junction; and Central’s Willy Holdren (No. 5, 152) and Anthony Feller (No. 5, 145), are among the best in the state.

Feller, a Warrior Classic champ, could bump into a super-freshman, Fruita’s Isaac Rodriguez, making his season debut.

Fruita, which has been hampered by injuries, will benefit from the return of Rodriguez from a football shoulder injury. The highly-touted 145-pounder plans to eventually drop to 138 pounds, said Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose, and could be starting a drive to the state final.

“Junction, Palisade and Central are all three real tough teams right now,” Van Hoose said. “We’re a younger team and we’re missing some weights (classifications) and it’s not where I’d hoped we’d be, but it’s the second part of the season that counts.”

Until then, who’s going to brag?

“In the past it’s always been for bragging rights in the valley,” Central coach Laurence Gurule said. “It’s something that a lot of folks look forward to seeing.”


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