Championship dreams

GJ's Hoffschneider aims to make last year's agony disappear with title

Grand Junction’s Jessie Hoffschneider, back, gets the upper hand Friday night in his 14-2 victory over Fort Collins’ Riley McConnell in the 170-pound semifinal match at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center. Hoffschneider advanced to tonight’s final.

Grand Junction’s Jacob Trujillo will try to become the first freshman to win a state title when he wrestles in tonight’s 120-pound final. Trujillo defeated ThunderRidge’s Kyndall Rutz 1-0 in Friday’s semifinal.

DENVER — Taking swigs from a water bottle as he sat in a breezy tunnel outside the 10 mats at the Pepsi Center on Friday, Grand Junction’s Jessie Hoffschneider pointed to the wall across from him.

“I was right there last year,” Hoffschneider said. “Bawling. I remember.”

Hoffschneider (44-1) had just won a semifinal at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament, setting himself up for tonight’s 170-pound final against Thad Gallegos of Ponderosa (32-5).

Tigers freshman Jacob Trujillo also made it to the finals and will face Bear Creek’s P.T. Garcia in the 120-pound final. Garcia pinned Trujillo in 3 minutes, 30 seconds at the Arvada West Invitational in January. Trujillo is looking to become the Tigers’ first freshman to win an individual wrestling championship.

Hoffschneider finished as a runner-up in each of the past two seasons.

Earlier this week, he came down with the flu and lost six pounds. And in the first period of Friday’s quarterfinal match against Bear Creek’s Jacob Kelly, Hoffschneider said he could hardly breathe.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh, no, not again,’ ” Hoffschneider said.

Hoffschneider had a 5-3 lead in the third period.

“Then I thought about last year,” Hoffschneider said. “And how nothing is going to take this away from me this year. I started saying some crazy stuff to myself. Like, ‘Beat the heck out of this guy.’ “

He immediately scored a takedown and near fall for five points, then continued to rack up points with yet another near fall en route to an 18-3 technical fall victory.

In the semifinals, Hoffschneider’s wrath continued in his 14-2 decision over Fort Collins’ Riley McConnell.

He said the flu symptoms had seemed to go away, and he felt strong again, but a possible strep throat left him coughing and battling sinus pressure.

Sitting in the tunnel after the win, he recalled the agony of second place.

“I know it’s all going to go away (Saturday),” he said.

Trujillo also won his semifinal match, a 1-0 decision over ThunderRidge’s Kyndall Rutz that was less stylistic than Hoffschneider’s semi.

Figuring out Rutz was not wrestling aggressively, Trujillo sat on a 1-0 lead and decided not to risk getting out of position by shooting too much.

“He was so composed for a kid,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “I can’t say enough about that. It’s like in football where you have to know your down and distance.”

Trujillo did not need to, in football terms, call for a deep post pattern. He just ran the ball conservatively up the middle.

“A win’s a win,” Trujillo said. “Even by a point, it’s not about style.”

Losing their semifinal matches were Central’s Thomas Holman (220 pounds), Willy Holdren (152) and Grand Junction’s Dylon Thompson (138) and Gage Casey (160).


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