Hoffman earns some confidence after medal, injury withdrawal

HERSHEY – The final period of Garrett Hoffman’s 170-pound semifinal is a blur. He doesn’t remember much of it.

You see, the Montoursville sophomore said he blacked out briefly when he hit his head during a scramble near the end of the second period in a match he was controlling. When the third period started and he and Richland’s Nico Pecora were both on their feet, he had to use Pecora to keep his balance.

It wasn’t exactly the most advantageous way to try and hold on to a 4-0 lead.

Hoffman recalled what he could of that Friday semifinal match when he came back to the Giant Center on Saturday to receive his sixth-place medal. Hoffman had to forfeit his two consolation matches after doctors diagnosed him with a concussion following his overtime loss to Pecora Friday night.

“I was two minutes away from being in the state finals,” Hoffman said. “I had a 4-0 lead that I probably would have kept if I was healthy. It’s extremely frustrating to come that close and have it taken away.”

Hoffman just wasn’t the same wrestler who had built the 4-0 lead in the semifinals after the scramble out of bounds in the second period. He initially tried to get up off the mat but stumbled back down. Warriors assistant coach Matt Yonkin and a trainer rushed to his side as the official signaled for injury time.

But the trainer let Hoffman continue in the match. The first-time state qualifier struggled to defend any kind of shot as Pecora recorded three takedowns in the third period to tie the score at 6-6. Hoffman found a burst of energy in the final 10 seconds and nearly got an escape which would have given him a win, but Pecora hung on to forced overtime.

It was just six seconds into overtime that Pecora scored the bout-winning takedown. Pecora went on to lose in yesterday’s state final, 12-3, to Kane’s Evan Delong.

“Having to settle for six, it’s a good spot, but not where I want to be,” Hoffman said. “Next year I definitely want more. It gives me a reason to work harder and keep getting better and improving just to be in the state finals.”

Even as the Northeast Regional champion, Hoffman was a bit of a surprise to be in the semifinals Friday night. But late points in the semifinals against Jefferson-Morgan’s Bill Bowlen guaranteed the first-time state qualifier his first state medal.

Unfortunately because of the injury, it was the last match Hoffman won during the weekend.

“I don’t think anybody predicted me to do as well as I did,” Hoffman said. “Just proving them wrong and beating kids like Billy Bowlen, it really helps my confidence.”