The proving ground: Warrior Classic will give GJ’s Hoffschneider a good idea where he stands
His father wrestled and his cousins were state champions, but Jessie Hoffschneider didn’t get into wrestling until the fifth grade.
“He tried to get me to do it when I was little, but I wasn’t interested,” Hoffschneider said. “I was very asthmatic when I was little and couldn’t play sports.”
Once his asthma was under control, it didn’t take Hoffschneider long to find success. He qualified for state tournaments on a regular basis in middle school and as a freshman last year.
Now, the Grand Junction 140-pound sophomore (8-0) is ranked second in state and eager to prove he’s one of the best in state this weekend in the 33rd annual Warrior Classic.
“My goal is to be a state champ this year,” Hoffschneider said. “All through middle school and ever since I’ve wrestled, I competed in state. I came close a couple times, but I’ve never won. I got a good shot at being a multiple state champ in high school.”
He will get a glimpse of how he measures up Friday and Saturday at Mesa State College’s Brownson Arena in the premier early season tournament.
The tournament includes several of the top wrestlers in Colorado and Utah.
The Classic features five of the top 10 programs in Class 4A and two Utah schools (Uintah and West Jordan) expected to challenge for a state title. Second-ranked Roosevelt has won the past three team titles and Broomfield won the Class 4A state title last season. Roosevelt could join Moffat County as the a four-time team champion if it can repeat.
Montezuma-Cortez’s Casey Lynn, a 135-pound senior, will attempt to win a third Warrior Classic title. Lynn won the Classic as a freshman and sophomore but took second last year to Jerry Huff of Broomfield (125). Huff, teammate Courtland Hacker (119), Central’s Matthew Gurule (112) and Roosevelt’s C.J. York (125) are going for a second Warrior Classic title.
Hoffschneider, who placed sixth in the state at 135 pounds last year, is looking to place in the Warrior Classic for the first time.
“Last year, he wasn’t sure how good he was yet,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “He lost two matches he was more than capable of winning. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins the whole thing. If you’re good enough to place, you’re good enough to win it.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Jessie was a state champ this year. I know that’s what he’s shooting for this year. He kind of surprised himself last year when he placed. Now, his goals are higher.”
Placing at state as a freshmen only made Hoffschneider hungrier.
He wrestled in the Fargo Nationals last summer and finished one round away from receiving All-American honors (top eight) with Grand Junction teammate Dylon Thompson.
“It’s like a whole other season,” Hoffschneider said. “It helps me to improve and get a step ahead of other wrestlers.”
He learned a lot from that experience and is already putting it to work this season.
“Anybody who sees Jess in any aspect of his life, it shouldn’t surprise you that he succeeds,” Allison said. “He’s one of those kids if I tell him to run through a wall, he’ll run through the wall. He’ll keep doing it as long as he can as hard as he can.
“The reason Jessie’s good is because of his work ethic. You get a kid that works hard and you get a couple guys that know what they’re doing parting knowledge on him, and the sky’s the limit.”
Hoffschneider got his work ethic from his family.
One of his cousins, Dusty, was a three-time state champion (1999-2001) and another, Rocky, was a two-time state champion (1997-98) for Columbine High School. Dusty went on to wrestle at the University of Northern Colorado and Wyoming.
“There’s something in their DNA,” Allison said. “They look like they were carved out of stone at 14. Jessie can wrestle with anyone in the state.”