Tiger tough

Grand Junction's Trujillo ready to prove himself at Warrior Classic

After finishing second at state as a 120-pound freshman last year, Grand Junction’s Jacob Trujillo, top, worked hard to improve over the summer. The constant wrestling has paid off for the sophomore, who is 11-0 with 11 pins at 145 pounds heading into this weekend’s Warrior Classic.

Jacob Trujillo proved he was ready for high school wrestling last year.

He took third in the Warrior Classic and was the runner-up at 120 pounds at state as a freshman at Grand Junction High School.

For many, that would a be a great accomplishment.

For Trujillo, it wasn’t enough.

He spent the summer working out two to three times a day and wrestled in a couple of top-level national tournaments.

In one of them, there were 140 wrestlers in his weight class, he said.

“I’d wrestle my match, and when I got off they’d be calling my name to wrestle again,” Trujillo said. “It builds character and makes you mentally tougher.

“I’m older, more mature this year. I know where I’m at a little bit more when it comes to mat awareness. This year, I have a set of high standards. I worked out all summer. I don’t want that to go to waste.”

Although most wrestlers stay in the same weight class or move up one, Trujillo filled out and is wrestling four weight classes up at 145 this year.

The sophomore is one of 26 returning state place-winners in Colorado wrestling in the Warrior Classic, which begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Central High School. There are a possible 14 returning state placers from out-of-state schools.

The team title likely will be a wide-open race for the first time in several years.

Roosevelt is a much different team than the ones that won the past six team titles. The Roughriders have two returning state qualifiers.

“I think the tournament is more open this year,” Central coach Laurence Gurule said. “I don’t know how many kids they have back. You have Vernal (Uintah) coming back, Thunderbird (Ariz.) is coming back and Mountain Vista coming in.”

Fruita Monument, ranked ninth last week in Class 5A, could be in the mix.

“We’ve got to show up and wrestle,” Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose said. “This week is a big stepping stone. We’ll see where we rank. We have something yet to prove.”

When asked if the Wildcats have a shot at winning the team title, Van Hoose turned to ask the team.

“Do you guys have a shot at winning the Warrior or not?” he asked the team.

They responded, “Yeah!”

“We’ll see, won’t we?” Van Hoose retorted. “They aren’t worrying about stuff. They’re stepping on the mat to win.”

Van Hoose will put 13 wrestlers on the mat, holding his first-year heavyweight back to wrestle in a junior varsity tournament.

“I’ve been preaching to these guys there is going to be a moment, maybe two, you’ve got to reach down and find what God gave you,” he said. “If you can reach down and tap into that, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t win.”

Trujillo (11-0) is confident he can win the 145-pound title.

He is one of two returning state placers in his weight class. The other is Justin Verner of Green River (Wyo.) High School.

“I definitely want to win it,” Trujillo said. “I’ve had 11 matches so far (this season), and I’ve pinned all 11 kids. To continue that streak would be pretty neat.”

Trujillo could bump into another talented sophomore wrestler in the valley in Fruita Monument’s Isaac Rodriguez, if Rodriguez stays at 145.

“I talked to him at the Mesa duals, and he said he’s going up to 152s,” Trujillo said. “He’s definitely one of the strongest kids out there. He’s mentally tough. He keeps his pace and holds it.”

Defending Warrior Classic champion Jace Lopez of Roosevelt was wrestling at 145 pounds, but he dropped down to 138 last week.

“I was hoping he’d wrestle my weight,” Trujillo said. “I was hoping to wrestle him. He’s a tough, ranked kid.”

Trujillo said 145-pound wrestlers are stronger and more mature, but he’s stronger, too.

“I’ve been wrestling at this weight all summer,” he said. “I’ll definitely see some good kids at the Warrior. We’ll see where I’m at. I’ll keep wrestling, not worry about stuff like that. I’ve got to wrestle my match. If I wrestle how I can wrestle, I know I can win.”


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