Pain just another opponent for GJ’s Hoffschneider

Throbbing knee not a worry to Tiger

Grand Junction’s Jessie Hoffschneider works to turn Cordell Stroud of Delta during Saturday’s Maverick Duals at Colorado Mesa University. Hoffschneider pinned four of five opponents and won the other match by technical fall.

Pain tells you to stop. It’s a report from the wound to the mind, or vice versa, that something needs repaired.

Sometimes there’s no choice: You go anyway.

Once again on Saturday, Grand Junction High School wrestler Jessie Hoffschneider has an opponent flat to the mat. Durango’s Dakota Sutherlin wobbles, but is pressed by the strength of a Tigers senior who refuses to let physical pain or emotional angst re-route his path to a state championship. The second period ends. Sutherlin avoids a pin.

Hoffschneider walks to his corner and doesn’t think about his knee and the meniscus that tore during last season’s Class 5A state 145-pound semifinal. It took six months to rehabilitate the knee. The pain comes and goes, but never stays.

“Whenever I’m in pain I think about my dad and how he hurts every day,” Hoffschneider said. “He doesn’t quit; he just keeps going and going because he has to.”

Two generations of concrete labor settles into the top row as Hoffschneider is racking up third-period points during the Maverick Duals at Colorado Mesa University.

Jessie Sr. and Hoffschneider’s grandfather, Eben, are familiar with a constant pounding of a concrete business that has left Jessie Sr. with arthritis in his hands and wrists and searing pains in his ankles.

Doctors want to fuse his wrists, Jessie said, but he figures that would be worse than the pain.

“I take pain killers every day,” he said. “But (concrete) is all I know how to do. I don’t want (Jessie Jr.) going down that path.”

It was a two-day jaunt for Grand Junction’s three-time state placer. Hoffschneider was 12. Jessie Sr. said that at about 120 pounds, young Jessie hauled 8-foot wall forms, weighing 130 pounds each, during consecutive 10-hour shifts.

“If you don’t get a good education,” Jessie Sr. told his son, “you’ll be doing this the rest of your life.”

“I’ve had straight A’s since,” Jessie Jr. said.

And he’s 6-0 on the mat so far this season.

Jessie ended up defeating Sutherlin by technical fall, 16-1. It was the only one of five matches Saturday that didn’t end with a pin. Said one of Hoffschneider’s opponents: “I know he’s on a mission. I could tell that when I was wrestling him. He wanted to get things done. But if you’re going to write that up, don’t put my name in there.”

After two second-place finishes in Class 5A the past two seasons, the mission is obvious.

As a sophomore, Hoffschneider lost a 4-3 decision in the state final.

Last season, he wrestled in the 145-pound final with the freshly-torn meniscus and nearly won. Mountain Range’s Alonso Wong, who in October 2010 took seventh place at the World Junior Judo Championships in Morocco, defeated Hoffschneider in the closing seconds of a 5-2 decision at Pepsi Center.

“After state, I give the wrestlers two weeks off,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “By the time Jessie came back you’d have thought he won the match.”

Like his father’s pain, Hoffschneider didn’t have a choice but to wipe the filth away. Three days after surgery to repair the tear, Hoffschneider was in the gym lifting weights. He continued lifting on crutches.

Fully rehabbed during Saturday’s matches, Hoffschneider looked as though he had 10 pounds of muscle mass on his opponents. His upper body no doubt cowers some opponents.

A tattoo on his upper back of his nickname “Hoffy” is interrupted by straps of his singlet. Another on his chest, hidden, depicts a cross over “Phil 4:13,” which in the New International Version of the Bible translates to: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

“It’s my favorite verse of the Bible,” Hoffschneider said. “I’ve wanted it throughout high school and just recently got it.”

He speaks a few words, then lets you take the conversation for a spin.

“He’s just very quiet,” said Jessie’s mother, Cora. “You’d think he’d be real popular in school but he’s not. Sometimes he just likes to go off on his own.”

After the 5-0 start this season, Hoffschneider wanders away, perhaps to distill pain and other distractors of his goals. The first is a state title. Then a college choice. He is considering Colorado Mesa University, and the university is certainly interested in Hoffschneider.

“He comes from a great family and he loves to wrestle,” Mesa coach Chuck Pipher said. “We’d love to have him on board.”

After college, Hoffschneider sees himself behind a desk somewhere. Relaxing. Maybe some low-impact typing. Surely not hauling more 130-pound wall forms.

“Oh, no,” Hoffschneider said. “That’s a tough route to go.”


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