Masters of the mat: Experience lifts locals in first round
DENVER — Prior experience isn’t necessary, but it is preferred.
Several wrestlers from the Grand Valley discovered that Thursday in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament at the Pepsi Center.
Five of the eight wrestlers from the three valley schools with previous state wrestling experience advanced to today’s quarterfinals.
“If you want to win, you’ve got to get after it,” Central coach Laurence Gurule said. “You can’t wait. Hopefully the team will wake up and push it (today). They have to or their season is over.”
The five first-time qualifiers all lost in the first round.
Central advanced two of its five wrestlers to score seven points, good for 18th place. Both of Grand Junction’s wrestlers, Dylon Thompson and Jessie Hoffschneider, advanced to score four points. Matt Remy was Fruita Monument’s only first-round winner.
Thompson broke a scoreless tie with a takedown and near fall in overtime for a 5-0 victory at 103 pounds over Coronado’s Devon Cruz.
“The first round is always the toughest,” Thompson said. “You are tired from cutting weight, but you’ve got to stick to your guns.”
Thompson (36-2), who didn’t place last year as a freshman, is shooting for a state title.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve got the first one out of the way. It’s always tough. He’s probably going to place. I had to be on my game.”
Hoffschneider (35-3), who placed sixth last year, rallied from an early 2-0 deficit at 140 pounds to defeat Austin Olson of Ponderosa 6-3.
“He was long and goofy,” Hoffschneider said. “I had to make sure to finish my shots.
“The first one is always a shaky one. After that, I’m more confident and relaxed. Whenever you get down, you don’t stop. You can still come back and win.”
Central junior Zach Short came out more aggressive from the start in his second state tournament appearance and it paid off. Short (31-12) put Rocky Mountain’s Diego Felix in a cradle in 59 seconds at 152 pounds.
“Last year, I was nervous for state,” Short said. “This year, I kept a cool head.
“It makes a big difference. This sport is as much mental as it is physical.”
Central’s Matthew Gurule (43-1) took the first step toward a possible third state title with a 16-5 victory over Mountain Vista’s Dylan Bull at 112 pounds. Pine Creek’s Josh Martinez won by technical fall on the other side of the bracket.
Gurule’s cousin, Jaqub Gurule, lost a 6-2 decision to Loveland’s Chance Leingang at 119.
“Jaqub didn’t wrestle well,” Laurence Gurule said. “I don’t know why; he’s been in this arena before. That kid was tough, but Jaqub is also.”
Of the six wrestlers Fruita brought to the state tournament, three were making a second appearance, but only Remy advanced.
Remy, who was one round shy of placing in the state tournament last year, defeated Bear Creek’s Cameron Morton 4-2 at 215 pounds.
“This is it,” Remy said. “My junior year, I walked in here and thought, ‘Holy crap. This place is huge.’ This year, I’m nervous, but not as bad. It’s not as big as I remember.”
Fruita heavyweight Anthony Martin, who injured his knee in the regional final last weekend, was hampered by it in an 8-1 loss.
Senior Jeff Gonzales, who qualified last year, lost a 7-1 decision to Loveland’s Garrett Vasquez.