Matthew Hofenbredl’s plan of winning four state wrestling championships was disrupted his junior year.
But that made winning a state championship in his senior year mean more.
The Dallas High School senior reached elite status in Oregon high school wrestling this season by winning the OSAA Class 5A state championship at 132 pounds, the third state championship of his career.
“Like my sophomore year after I won state, I was like, oh I won state. Did it again. Didn’t really appreciate it and think much of it again,” said Hofenbredl, the Statesman Journal All-Mid-Valley Wrestler of the Year.
“So then my senior year winning it again is like kind of the same emotions as my freshman year, like I finally got it again. It made me happy, and then I got really sad.”
Immediately after winning the state championship match, Hofenbredl was alerted that his grandfather, Larry, was having a fatal heart attack in the stands.
He left the Memorial Coliseum before accepting his award, and the entire Dallas team followed suit.
An assistant coach had to gather the medals and later presented them to the Dallas wrestlers.
“It showed how much of a family we are,” Hofenbredl said. “Obviously placing for them is big and doing all that, but they’re showing like family’s first, our wrestling family and everything comes first over that.”
Hofenbredl describes his grandfather as his biggest fan.
Whether he was competing in a dual meet at Dallas or a national tournament in Virginia or Illinois, his grandfather would drive to watch him compete.
“It was really cool knowing that he was there from the start all the way to the end,” Hofenbredl said. “From my first match to my last match he was there no matter what.”
Hofenbredl started wrestling at about age 5 and was winning wrestling tournaments before most kids were wrestling.
He won the 106 pound state championship in his freshman year at Dallas and the 113 pound state championship as a sophomore.
But his junior year didn’t go as well.
He started off late due to a partial tear of the MCL in his right knee. The injury didn’t require surgery, but he missed half of the season while recovering.
“It set me back a lot,” Hofenbredl said.
He still won the Mid-Willamette Conference district championship, and made it to the 126 pound state championship match, but he was upset by a 4-2 overtime decision by Hood River Valley’s Christian Marquez.
Hofenbredl made up for it with a dominating senior year.
He went 37-2, won the prestigious Reser’s Tournament of Champions, won his fourth consecutive Mid-Willamette Conference district championship and advanced through the state tournament to earn a rematch with Marquez in the state championship match.
This time Hofenbredl won 7-1 for his third state title.
“I was thinking I want to win it, I want to go out on top and all that,” said Hofenbredl, who plans to attend Chemeketa Community College next year. “Just placing and being there with the team, I would have been happy with that.
“There was definitely stuff in the back of my head: I want to win, I need to win. Just being with the team and having fun would have been good, too.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler
District placing: Mid-Willamette Conference champion.
State placing: Class 5A state champion.