Hansen hopes he’s about to rock | SteamboatToday.com

Hansen hopes he’s about to rock

Steamboat senior unplugs AC/DC while aiming for state tourney

Matthew Hansen made state as a sophomore but missed last season. Now heading into his final regional tournament, he's intent on qualifying again for the state championships.

— As it turns out, rock ‘n’ roll was noise pollution.

Steamboat Springs High School senior Matthew Hansen worked through his junior year on the high school wrestling team following a familiar pre-match routine.

He'd take some time to himself, plug in his headphones and rock out to some AC/DC.

He didn't realize it at the time, but he was on a highway to hell.

Hansen was a sophomore the first time he qualified for the state wrestling championships, and as he cruised through his junior season, he straight up expected to return and had little reason to change up his pre-wrestling routine.

When he hit the all-important regional wrestling tournament, he was thunderstruck.

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He lost, first in the semifinals, then again in the consolation round. He ended up fifth in a tournament that sends its top four qualifiers back to state.

"After going my sophomore year, I felt like I almost deserved it my junior year," he said. "Not making it really made me realize you have to work extra hard, no matter what you did the year before."

It shook him all night long and for the last 12 months.

Hansen will have the chance to get back to state starting Friday when the Steamboat Springs High School wrestling team travels to Denver West for its regional tournament.

Hansen should have a shot, but it's been a long way to the top.

His biggest hurdle came three games into this year's football season. He was running in for a tackle on defense in the first quarter against Glenwood Springs. His arm got caught in an awkward spot and was dislocated.

He didn't realize how severe his injury was at first, and he actually played the rest of the game. Afterward, however, he couldn't even lift his arm above his shoulder. He'd need surgery to repair it, and it couldn't be a dirty deed, done dirt cheap.

With his wrestling season suddenly in jeopardy, doctors expedited the operation, and just 10 days after he'd sustained the injury, he was through it and on his way to recovery.

He pushed that recovery as hard as he could, at times even overdosing a bit in the weight room.

"I stuck to my physical therapy plan as closely as I could and pushed things as far as I could without hurting myself," he said. "Sometimes, I was putting too much weight on or doing too many reps. They wanted low weight, high reps, but I definitely found the limit."

He was finally back in business when he got the all clear from his doctor about a week after winter break. 
He rejoined the team Jan. 14 in a tournament at Evergreen and felt better than ever. His shoulder felt stronger than when he'd injured it, but he did incorporate a few changes into his routine.

He decided the AC/DC had gotten him a little too pumped up a little too long before he was actually on the mat.

Instead, he ditched the headphones and has tried focusing on the work he's already put in.

"I don't listen to music this year. I don't really think about a whole lot," he said. "I just try to trust the work I've put in in practice."

Now back with the team, he's a big gun for the Sailors, and back at regionals, he's hoping to shoot to thrill, to explode like TNT.

He's 17th in the state at 152 pounds in the most recent On the Mat rankings, which would leave him just outside the 16-wrestler state bracket, but he's fourth in the Denver West region, behind the sixth-, 11th- and 14th-ranked wrestlers.

He's hoping by turning off the music and turning up his focus he can be back in black at the state tournament.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9