GJ duo makes successful return to wrestling
Mitch Hiler and Matt King missed the mat.
The Grand Junction High School senior wrestlers returned in the past year hungry to prove themselves.
Hiler was one of five Tigers to go undefeated Saturday in the inaugural Tiger Duals at Grand Junction High School.
“I’m out to prove I can make state if I try my hardest,” Hiler said. “I’m not a JV wrestler, I’m varsity.”
Grand Junction won the team title, going 5-0. ThunderRidge took second, going 4-1.
Brighton was scheduled to wrestle in the tournament but didn’t make the trip because of transportation issues, Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said.
“For the first year having the tournament, getting it off the ground, we had a pretty good group of teams,” Allison said. “Brighton is a strong team, but there were some good matches today. We were all a lot alike today, three or four good kids and about 10 getting their feet wet.”
Grand Junction sophomore Jacob Trujillo, ranked No. 1 at 145 pounds in Class 5A, pinned all five of his opponents to lead the way. The Tigers’ Cody Lacy (106 pounds), Jonny Pauli (195) and Robbie Gonzalez (220) also went undefeated in the tournament.
Hiler (6-0) returned to wrestling last year when his family moved to Grand Junction from the Denver metro area. The 170-pounder wrestled junior varsity behind eventual state champion Jessie Hoffschneider.
“I came out thinking I was going to win,” Hiler said. “I fought my hardest. There’s nothing really to say.”
King returned to the mat this year. He wrestled when he was younger but gave it up in middle school.
“It’s a good sport,” King said. “I wanted to toughen up for (college) football. I thought it would be good to wrestle.”
He hasn’t committed to a college but hopes to play at the next level.
King (8-3) was 3-2 in the Tiger Duals with one pin and two tough losses.
“I definitely can improve a lot,” King said. “My losses are from being inexperienced. My coaches are teaching me a lot of things.”
He had ThunderRidge’s Ty Lavigne on his back but ran out of time and lost 10-9. King was pinned by Moffat County’s Jesse Demoor.
“Our upper weights are a good surprise,” Allison said. “We have some kids working hard and have some talent.
“With Matt and Mitch both, they are seniors, but they are really young (on the mat). They get better each time out. Matt took a beautiful shot the first time out, but got caught in a funky thing the Moffat County kid did. That’s a learning lesson. He does all the right things. They really are the kind of kids you want to coach.”
Pauli had two pins, and Gonzalez pinned all four of his opponents.
At the other end, Lacy’s experience in youth wrestling has led the freshman to early success in his first varsity season.
“It’s tough (wrestling varsity),” Lacy said. “There’s a lot of pressure being a freshman on varsity. There are a bunch of good kids.”
Lacy (11-0) kept his undefeated record intact with four pins and a forfeit.