HERSHEY — The accolades continue to pile up for Jimmy Hoffman.
On Friday at Giant Center during the Class 3A PIAA Championships, the Hazleton Area senior advanced to the 132-pound semifinals for the second straight year.
In doing so, he also picked up career win No. 160 becoming just the second wrestler in Wyoming Valley Conference history to hit that number joining Matt Dragon from Lake-Lehman (166 wins). Hoffman is also just the fifth athlete in all of District 2 to achieve that mark joining Abington Heights’ Evan Craig (169) and Delaware Valley’s Jalen (162) and CJ Palmer (160).
“I honestly don’t even remember wrestling that many matches,” Hoffman said. “But it’s definitely a big accomplishment. Hopefully I can get two more to make it 162 (and the state title).”
Hoffman, who is the only WVC wrestler to medal in Class 3A for the second straight year, defeated Wyatt Long from Cumberland Valley 4-1 in the state quarterfinals to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round, which starts at 9 a.m. There he’ll face Altoona’s Cole Manley, a rival from the past.
Although not meeting at all through their high school careers, Hoffman and Manley have wrestled in the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships in elementary school with Manley winning two of the previous three meetings with the most recent being six years ago.
“I used to wrestle him all the time when we were little. He beat me in the series 2-1 so I’m gonna have to tie that up here,” Hoffman said. “We’ve both got a lot better and it’s great we’ve been able to grow up together wrestling down low, and now we’re here in the big show.”
Hoffman’s teammate Carson Kinney also wrestled in the quarterfinals, but lost there, and again in the consolation round. Tunkhannock’s Tommy Traver also saw his season end with a loss in the wrestlebacks.
In the quarterfinal, Hoffman took advantage of a mistake from Long late in the first period when the CV standout took a sloppy shot and Hoffman found an opening for a takedown and two back points to go up 4-0 after the first period.
“He put his hand down and I grabbed it and I just bull-rushed him through and pushed him back. If there was a little more time I might have been able to get the fall,” Hoffman said. “That ended up being the match winner for me.”
The score stayed that way until just five seconds remained in the third period when Hoffman was hit with a penalty point for stalling. The Cougar was ridden out in the second period despite several attempts trying to break free by getting to his feet.
In Kinney’s quarterfinal bout against North Allegheny’s Jake Woodley, a returning state champ and the top-ranked 195-pounder in the state, the Hazleton Area senior was the victim of a takedown clinic. Woodley got in deep on quick shots 12 times en route to a 25-10 technical fall in 5:44.
Later in the session, Kinney wrestled the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the state in Eli Grape from Upper St. Clair looking to secure the state medal and was pinned in 50 seconds as his career came to a devastating close with 122 career wins.
“I’m aching for him. The kid works extremely hard, one of the best kids that you’ll ever want to be around. He got a tough draw and not much you can do about that,” Cougars coach Keith Maurer said. “Outstanding career. One of the guys that had 100 wins on the team. A lot of key victories throughout his career. So there’s a lot of good things to look back on. I’m sure this one will sting for a while. Losing in the blood round in any tournament is devastating. At the state tournament is a little extra sting.”
Traver wrestled just once on Friday and saw his sophomore season conclude when he lost to Luke Landefeld from North Allegheny 5-0 in an elimination match. Down 3-0 in the second period and in neutral, Traver tried to hit a big-point move with a headlock, but instead, Landefeld turned that into a takedown and two more points to seal the win. Traver also tried again in the third period when choosing neutral, but neither competitor could score points. Still, Traver concludes with 79 career wins
“He took a couple of bad shots on his feet and the kid was able to take him down with that. He wrestled pretty well though for the most part I thought,” Tunkhannock coach Bob Hegedty said. “Knowing his work ethic, he’s gonna be right back into it and keep working hard so I’m pretty sure he’ll be back (to the state tournament).”
Scranton’s Willie Evanitsky (145) won twice on Friday in the consolation round to secure a medal and join Hoffman as state medalists from District 2. The Scranton junior won both of his matches 3-2 to stave off elimination.
NOTES: The Wyoming Valley Conference streak of state semifinalists continued on Friday when Meyers’ Colin Pasone (Class 2A, 120 pounds) and Hoffman reached the final four of their respective brackets. … The league has had a state semifinalist every year since 2002. … Scranton’s Jacob Burgette also wrestled in the loser’s bracket for D2 in Class 3A and lost his only match to be eliminated.