Wrestling is a sport that is comparable to hand-to-hand combat. It is an individual sport that can be won or lost based on actions of the individual alone.
Jesse Hillhouse, a wrestler at CSU-Pueblo, is one who has been on the winning side of several such combats in his time.
Hillhouse’s current coach, Dax Charles, could only find one word to describe the start of Jesse’s senior
“Perfect,” Charles said. “Jesse has been perfect.”
Hillhouse, a native of Casper, Wyo., started the season by winning three matches against Division I opponents en route to a championship at the Cowboy Open, held in his native state of Wyoming. Hillhouse also earned outstanding wrestler honors for the tournament, which featured several ranked Division I wrestlers including the three defeated by Hillhouse.
Hillhouse’s success throughout his career is even more astonishing considering he only began wrestling his freshman year of high school.
“My buddy talked me into it (wrestling), and at first, I thought the idea of it was stupid,” Hillhouse said, “then of course I fell in love with the sport.
“My very first tournament I took third and it really made me want to get better,” Hillhouse said.
Hillhouse continued to expand on that success as his career went on. Wrestling for Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Hillhouse placed third in the state during his freshman season. He would go on to place three more times, including two more third place finishes in 2007 and 2009, and a Wyoming state championship in 2008.
After high school, Hillhouse went on to compete at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. Hillhouse said a driving force in his career has been to earn a national championship, and also to be able to earn an education and do something with life.
While at Northwest, Hillhouse was able to become a two-time All-American, including a runner-up finish in the nation.
Hillhouse attributes his success to being influenced by both God and his family.
“Wrestling is one of the toughest sports in the world,” Hillhouse said. “And the fact that my Lord and Savior is there through every struggle I go through helps me push my body physically and mentally helps a lot.”
As for his family, Hillhouse appreciates their support through every decision he has made, and said it motivates him knowing that they are proud of the success he has had.
Hillhouse arrived at CSU-Pueblo after finishing his career at the community college level. He said his coach at Northwest wrestled with Charles, and that is what helped land him here.
Now at CSU-Pueblo, Hillhouse is looking to not only earn a finish on top of the podium, but also earn a degree, something that may not have been possible without the help of wrestling.
Hillhouse commented that before wrestling, he never earned the best of grades.
“In order to compete on the mat, I had to keep my grades up,” Hillhouse said. “Without wrestling, I’m not sure where my grades would have ended up.”
While competing at 133 pounds last season, Hillhouse compiled a 33-6 record on his way to nationals, where both he and Charles believe he can compete for national champion honors this year. Hillhouse is competing at 125 pounds for the ThunderWolves this season and is currently ranked seventh in the nation.
Hillhouse now studies criminology and has aspirations to become a SWAT officer following his college career, while also coaching and giving back to his community.