Returning after suspension, Feller wins first Warrior Classic title
Anthony Feller stood by the stands, smiling and shaking minutes after the match. The final of his five “victims,” meanwhile, was still lying on the mat, having a tug of war with oxygen.
Feller is a Warrior Classic champion.
He’d been redeemed from the suspension.
It had been three months since Feller picked up a 5-inch buck knife during a camping trip on Colorado National Monument. A golden and harmless find. But after Feller waved it at some friends as he was driving in the Central High School parking lot — a playful notion at some friends, Feller said — a campus liaison spotted him and did his duty. Feller said he missed a month of school.
His first five matches of the season were at the 35th annual Warrior Classic at Central High School, which Roosevelt won for the sixth straight season. The 145-pounder who many coaches, parents and teammates have said is a leader (he’s a member of Central Ties, which in part organizes school events) and a gentleman, went 5-0, ending with his 4:35 pin of Arvada West’s Tony Silva.
Feller took home the lower-weight class most outstanding wrestler award, and helped Central place third, in a tie with Rocky Mountain.
“I had to get in and punish kids,” Feller said, “all the kids for what happened. They were my victims. It was legal. I couldn’t get expelled for it.”
And then he laughed a gentleman’s laugh, a man without a gleam of animosity, and walked away.
The only thing Feller, and teammate Willy Holdren, who won his second straight Warrior crown at 152 pounds, couldn’t brag about was a team title.
Paonia, which sent four to the semifinals, placed second.
The Eagles did not advance a wrestler to a championship, but scored a pair of third-place finishes, Tony Darling at 285 pounds and Myles Cumpston at 220.
“It’s not first place,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “But we have 80 boys in our high school and took second here. We’re looking at February.”
That would be the state championships, and the Warrior Classic is an indication of how far — or close — a wrestler or a team is to a state title.
Grand Junction’s Jessie Hoffschneider, then, is a few months away from a possible title. He took his second straight Warrior Classic title and the upper-weights most outstanding wrestler award with a 2:55 pin over Monte Vista’s Austin Vance.
Hoffschneider was down 2-0 in the first period.
“I kept my composure and didn’t panic at all,” said Hoffschneider, 17-0, who missed six months before the season rehabilitating torn ligaments in his knee. “Rehab motivated me every day to win the Warrior.”
Grand Valley’s David Witt also is undefeated at 17-0. He scored a 14-6 major decision over Gage Casey of Grand Junction. “I always wanted to be a Warrior Classic champion,” Witt said. “Then I just had to go do it.”
Zach Shank won his second consecutive Warrior Classic championship with a 4:23 pin over Eduardo Trevizio of Farmington at 132 pounds.
Shank stuck his opponent with his “go-to” move. He didn’t even have a name for it.
“We’ll call it an arm bar,” Shank said. “Basically a chicken wing.”
Shank is 16-0.
Holdren is one of many wrestlers who had wanted to win the Warrior since they were little kids. He won a 3-1 decision in the 152-pound final over Montrose’s Marcus Velasquez.
At 5 years old, Holdren would scribble on bout sheets during the tournament. And he’d tell his mother, Jenny Holdren, he wanted to win a championship someday.
“It finally paid off,” Holdren said.
Several area wrestlers placed third.
Cole Panter of Montrose pinned Morgan Rieder of Paonia in 3:34 at 195 pounds; Palisade’s Zach Judis won a 5-1 decision over Dominic Bejarano of Denver East at 182 pounds; Central’s Caleb Hendricks won a 3-1 decision over Palisade’s Eddie Vial at 170 pounds and Geordon Hudson of Montrose won a 9-1 majority decision over Rocky Mountain’s Alex Carson at 145 pounds.
Montrose’s Kordell Bradshaw pinned Denver East’s Devon Zavala in 3:33 in the third-place match at 138 pounds; Daniel Salazar of Palisade scored a 6-0 decision over Rocky Mountain’s Michael Fanning at 132 pounds; Grand Junction’s Jacob Trujillo defeated three-time state champion Alex Pena of Ignacio 3-2 at 126 pounds; and Trenton Piatt of Olathe pinned Paonia’s Jesse Reed in 3:49.