Over the last five years, no wrestler has put up the numbers that Jimmy Hoffman has produced.
He’s been so dominant that no one has even come close.
But Hoffman’s success has shed light on a broader issue.
In the last two seasons, the Hazleton Area star has been the only wrestler from the entire Wyoming Valley Conference to leave Hershey with a medal at the state tournament. It’s the lowest medal count for the WVC in more than 20 years. In the two-year span, only three other athletes from District 2 have stood on the podium at Giant Center.
Hoffman has carried the torch for the entire district and lived up to that by placing second in the state the last two seasons.
“It’s been something special. Being the only one to place these past two years to represent the WVC as well as Hazleton Area is something I never knew I had in me to carry out,” Hoffman said. “It is bittersweet at the moment knowing that was the last time I will ever get to put on a that Hazleton Area singlet, but I know I have bigger and better things awaiting me at the next level.”
Hoffman believes there are plenty of talented young wrestlers on the radar just waiting to turn into the next big star for the conference and district.
He was in the same wrestling room with teammates Shane Noonan, a sophomore district champ this season, and freshman Charles Everdale, who was district runner-up.
Other young wrestlers from around the WVC include sophomores Tommy Traver from Tunkhannock, Hanover Area’s D.J. Erickson, and Lake-Lehman’s Bob Long who were all state qualifiers this season. Another sophomore, Wyoming Valley West’s David Krokowski claimed his second straight district gold last month.
There’s also a pair of sophomores at Dallas in Alec Sampson and Steven Newell. Sampson was district runner-up and Newell claimed his first district title.
Ninth-graders Valley West’s JJ White, Tunkhannock’s Gavin D’Amato and Berwick’s Nick Yule were each district titlists.
“(They) all have the potential to do big things,” Hoffman said. “And once they believe that for themselves, the sky is the limit for them because they have a lot of talent.”
Upset of the decade
Mere seconds before Hoffman’s state final bout with Council Rock South’s Zack Trampe, a monumental upset occurred when Gavin DeSanto from Exeter Township dealt Franklin Regional’s Spencer Lee his first-ever loss in high school. Lee was trying to become an unbeaten four-time state champion.
DeSanto was awarded two for a takedown a split-second before the buzzer sounded for the 6-4 win as fans in Giant Center erupted into a loud ovation in recognition one of the biggest upsets in PIAA history.
The electricity of the arena couldn’t go unnoticed by Hoffman who was standing matside warming up when the chaos occurred. Especially since DeSanto and Hoffman have become friends over the years having wrestled on teams in the offseason together. Watching that got Hoffman even more hyped.
“Watching him really putting the hammer down on (Lee) was something I never expected, and it honestly just hyped me up even more,” Hoffman said.”After his match, I went to the scorer’s table and he started pointing at me and telling me ‘it’s my turn to take what’s mine.’ That was the last thing that really made me realize that I could do it. If a kid can take down the No. 1 kid in the nation, who also never had a loss in his high school career, then why couldn’t I go out and win a state title as well?”
Like no other
Hoffman’s career concludes with achievements that may not be matched in the near future. He became just the 19th multiple-time state finalist in District 2 history, was a two-time state runner-up and is fifth on the D2 wins list with 161. His storied career will resume as a Division I wrestler for Lehigh.
“Records are made to be broken so I hope some kid is listening to this, reading this in the newspaper and says ‘hey, coach I’m gonna break that.’ I like that,” Hazleton Area coach Keith Maurer said. “But they better talk to Jimmy Hoffman because the amount of work he put in … I hope they’re home working right now.”
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @tlsports