BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE
Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb have been friends and teammates since they were five years old. They are entering their senior seasons at Newark Valley, but they recently ensured that they will be on the same squad for several more years, as both committed to the University at Buffalo.
“It’s going to be great going to college with someone who is one of my teammates and best friends,” Hoffmier said. “It’s someone I’ve always wrestled with and am comfortable with but also someone who I know is dedicated to his studies and will always be focused and helpful in both the academic and athletic aspects.”
Hoffmier, a two-time Section IV champion, was also looking at Bucknell and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The future 157-pounder was planning to visit the latter school shortly after going to Buffalo, but after touring the Buffalo campus, he knew where he belonged.
“Coach [John] Stutzman made my decision easy,” Hoffmier said. “I love how he coaches and presents himself. I have a lot of confidence that he can help me become successful.”
Hoffmier has already been successful in his high school career, racking up more than 25 wins as a sophomore and 32 victories as a junior while making appearances at the state tournament both years (and winning a match each time). In 2013, he got his hand raised in Albany at 145 pounds against Jamiel Stapleton, sandwiched in between a pair of one-point losses to state placers.
Holcomb had a similar path at the Times Union Center after earning his first Section IV crown with an overtime win at 160 pounds over All-State wrestler Alex Francik, a future teammate with the Bulls. In Albany, Holcomb, who went 35-3 overall as a junior with 25 bonus wins, picked up a victory before losing in extra time to eventual fifth placer Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell.
Holcomb, who projects at 165 or 174 pounds in college, responded well with a standout showing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach in the spring, nabbing All-America honors with a seventh place finish at 152 pounds. He pinned his first opponent before dropping a close decision to Terrence Mason of Nevada in round two. Holcomb then got to work in the wrestlebacks, collecting five straight victories before beating Mason in a rematch to grab seventh.
It was actually the second consecutive seventh place medal for Holcomb at that event, as he took the same spot at 152 in the NHSCA Sophomore competition in 2012 with a similar run in the consolation bracket.
The strong performances continued at the recent Journeymen Classic as Hoffmier went undefeated at 152 pounds, while Holcomb went 3-1 with a 1-0 victory over NYS champion Adis Radoncic at 170 as well as wins over Pennsylvania state qualifier Johnny Dambro and New England runner up Brad Drover.
Now, the teammates will try to collect some hardware for the Cardinals. According to cnywrestling.com, Newark Valley’s last state champion was Barry Sutter in 1964 and the last placer was in 2000. Hoffmier and Holcomb look to change the record books before getting their college careers started.
Holcomb called the recruiting process, in which he also considered Binghamton and Bucknell, “very exciting, however very stressful.” In the end, the Buffalo staff won him over.
“I really connected with the coaches and enjoyed the great facilities,” Holcomb said. “I also thought the campus was the best fit for me and my major.”
It didn’t hurt that a familiar face, Hoffmier, had provided his verbal pledge to the MAC institution just a few days before.
“We’ve been partners since five years old,” Holcomb said. “We have molded each other into the wrestlers we are today. I’m happy that everything worked out and we will be able to push for our common goals together.”