Getting back on the mat
GJ's Trujillo, Fruita's Rodriguez hope to continue last season's success
Two sophomores provided one of the more intriguing high school wrestling matchups in the valley in a long time last season, culminating in the Class 5A 145-pound state finals.
Grand Junction’s Jacob Trujillo defeated Fruita Monument’s Isaac Rodriguez 10-4 in the first state finals match between two District 51 wrestlers since 1992.
Both wrestlers are back for their junior seasons, but will wrestle at different weights once they return from minor injuries.
Trujillo has put on more weight and hopes to wrestle at 160 pounds this year. He might start at 152 pounds.
“I’ve got to do it all over again,” Trujillo said. “I can’t live on (winning a state title) right now. Last year doesn’t matter. I’ve still got work for it. It’s not going to come to me.”
He traveled the country since the high school season ended, competing in wrestling tournaments, taking second place in the sophomore nationals and wrestling at the Fargo (N.D.) nationals.
“Jacob wrestled everywhere in the offseason,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “You know what you’re going to get with him.”
Trujillo was going to a team national tournament a few weeks ago, but a shoulder injury in practice caused him to skip that meet. He’ll miss the first two to four weeks with the injury, but hopes to return in time for the Warrior Classic.
Rodriguez plans to wrestle at 145 pounds again this season, but will also miss the first few weeks of the season with an injury from football. He’s also hoping to return for the Warrior Classic.
“We’ll see how he does,” Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose said of Rodriguez. “He’s been lifting weights and playing football.”
Both wrestlers will have a strong core of returning wrestlers around them.
The Tigers’ Cody Lacy and Louis Guillen return after qualifying for state last year.
Lacy will likely bump up to 113 pounds and Guillen will likely wrestle at 138 or 145.
Grand Junction has six more returning wrestlers from regionals — Kohlby Wells, Hayden Reynolds, Jeff Christeleit, Bruno Lopez, Tyler Sanders and Quinton Walton.
Robbie Gonzalez is back after breaking an ankle in the Warrior Classic last year. He’ll wrestle at 220 or heavyweight. Tyler Zook, who went to Central last year, will wrestle whichever weight class Gonzalez doesn’t.
The Tigers could have Rifle state qualifier Isaac Rider on the team by midseason after he’s cleared by CHSAA.
Fruita Monument has 10 returning wrestlers from regionals, including six state qualifiers, but some of them are in a tough battle for a varsity spot.
“There were some good battles at some of the weight classes,” Van Hoose said. “We’re nice and spread out. We have three or four freshmen, three or four sophomores, three or four seniors and four or five juniors.”
Senior Jacob Seely has wrestled in a lot of offseason tournaments and is eager to improve on his fifth-place finish last year. He’ll wrestle at 182 or 195 pounds this season.
Other returning wrestlers are Ian Konrad, Kaden Fife, Ty Taylor, Colt Chatfield and Jacob Womack.
Freshmen Remington McLean, Dartagnan McLean and Daniel Van Hoose will likely wrestle varsity.
Central had a good group back from last year’s Southwestern League champion team, but lost its two returning state qualifiers, Jacob Rubalcaba and Kolton Mayberry, to season-ending knee injuries during the football season.
Dominic Quintana also sustained a season-ending knee injury in football.
That leaves coach Laurence Gurule with six returning wrestlers, including Isaac Bair and Rowdy Allen, who each placed sixth in regionals.
“Last year, I never thought we would’ve won the (Southwestern) League,” Gurule said.
The Warriors raised money to travel and compete in a dual meet tournament in South Carolina on Jan. 3-4.
“This season will be a test to see if we’re good coaches,” Gurule said. “We’ve got good kids. If we’re good wrestlers, we’ll see.”