Ready for the big stage: State title, undefeated season the goal for GJ’s Hoffschneider
Jessie Hoffschneider hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to reach the state wrestling finals, only to lose.
The Grand Junction High School wrestler remembered that feeling as he trained last summer and prepared for this season.
Hoffschneider set very high goals this season — going undefeated and winning a state title. He can cap the season with both intact at the Class 5A state championships, beginning today at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“I know I’ve put in the work,” he said. “Now, it’s time to get my head right and get the right mind-set to win state. I know I can.”
The 145-pound junior is one of five Grand Junction wrestlers who qualified for state. Dylon Thompson is back with a similar goal after placing fourth last year. They are joined by first-time qualifiers Chase Arrieta, Kamron Medina and Dylan Reed.
“Jessie and Dylon spend a lot of time in here,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “They do this year-round. This is life for them. Their goal for this year has been to win the whole thing. They put themselves in a good spot.”
Hoffschneider (42-0) has dominated this season, winning the Warrior Classic and every other tournament the Tigers have entered.
“(Other wrestlers) don’t even think they can beat Hoff any more,” Allison said. “I can’t tell you how many times he got his eye gouged or his throat pulled on last week. It’s getting a little bit dirty because they’re trying to get him out of his game plan.”
Thompson (37-4) has been nearly as good, but he faces a tough road to the state title with two returning state champions in his weight class.
Greeley West’s Emilio Martinez (21-1), who won the Class 4A 103-pound title last season, is in Thompson’s half of the bracket. Pine Creek’s Geordan Martinez (37-0) is on the other half of the bracket. He defeated Thompson in the 103-pound semifinals on his way to the state title last year.
“That is a loaded bracket for sure,” Allison said. “He knew that going in, but Dylon’s good enough to beat all those guys. Those are kids we’ve wrestled a lot before. There are no two ways about it, he’s going to have to beat somebody good.”
Central has six wrestlers going to state, led by Zach Short, who placed third at 152 pounds last year, and 145-pounder Willy Holdren, who qualified for the second time.
Short (37-9) doesn’t have an undefeated wrestler or returning state champion in his weight class, but Pomona’s Justin Frazier (38-3) is on the other half. Short beat Frazier for third last year, but Frazier beat Short for a regional title last weekend.
Holdren (43-13) is on the opposite end of the bracket from Hoffschneider.
Central’s Oscar Ruiz (103), Anthony Feller (130), Aaron Wallway (189) and Kyle Jamison (285) qualified for the first time. Feller (33-14) just missed qualifying for state last year. Wallway (13-8) is a first-year varsity wrestler.
“For Aaron, this is a special trip for them,” Central coach Laurence Gurule said. “Aaron’s been JV off and on the last 21⁄2 years. He was on the JV up until four weeks ago.”
Fruita Monument 103-pounder Ian Konrad qualified for state for the first time. The freshman (30-10) drew Brighton’s Raul Ortega (30-4) in the first round.