Hitting the Jackpot: Grand Valley has plenty of parity when it comes to wrestling

In the Grand Valley, there is a lot of parity on the wrestling mat.

Thursday at Grand Junction High School, the Jackpot Duals proved Grand Junction, Central, Fruita Monument and Palisade are all pretty dangerous.

Fruita Monument edged out the other three schools, winning the team title with 46 team points. Central came in second with 45, Palisade finished third with 43 and Grand Junction was in fourth with 23.5.

“For this being right after the Christmas break, I was pleased,” Fruita Monument coach Jim Stockert said. “From here it’s a new season, and this is the first competition. Hopefully we get better, but this was a good start.”

Despite finishing behind the Wildcats in team points, Central had more first-place finishers than Fruita. Matthew Gurule (112 pounds), Willy Holdren (145), Evan Pinchak (171 lbs) and Jaron Sparks (189) all took first.

Holdren was seeded below Fruita’s Logan McNulty, but pinned McNulty in the third period.

“It felt awesome to win,” Holdren said. “The key for me was staying focused and wrestling the kind of match I wanted to.”

For Fruita Monument, it was Jeff Gonzales (130) and Anthony Martin (285) who took first. The Wildcats did have an opportunity for more first-place titles, with five other wrestlers make it into a championship match.

“We had some matches tonight that we had won and should have won but didn’t get it done,” Stockert said. “We have to work on that.”

Palisade had five first-place finishers. Marcus Vincent (135) and Wesley Shingleton (152) won titles for the Bulldogs. Vincent pinned Shaun Herrera of Grand Junction in the second period and said he enjoys wrestling in the Jackpot.

“It’s pretty important because it shows me where I am in the Valley,” Vincent said. “It’s a great feeling to say I’m the best in the Valley.”

Other Bulldogs to win their weight class were Nick Stephanus at 215, Casey Thornton at 119 and Daniel Salazar at 125. The Bulldogs had some of the best individual showings, but were unable to finish any higher in the team scores.

“Our goal in any tournament is to win it,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “I thought we wrestled well, but Fruita and Central did a good job.”

Jackpot Duals host Grand Junction had first-place finishes by Jesse Hoffschnieder at 140 pounds and Dylon Thompson at 103. First-year Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said the Jackpot Duals aren’t very high on the Tigers’ minds.

“We don’t have a lot of goals when it comes to things like the Jackpot because you see these teams five times a year,” Allison said. “You aren’t going to surprise anybody, so we want our kids to wrestle hard and have fun.”

Like most wrestling events, the Jackpot Duals were only a warm-up for the most important meet of the year which is mid-February’s regional tournament.

“Right now, I’m working hard in every match,” Thompson said. “I’m working to get to state.”


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