WP Boys’ Swimming Team Makes First Splash Into Competitive Waters
It is now official that Woodland Park High School sports fans are no longer in the middle of the awkward lull of matches and games that occur between the winter and spring seasons.
The last of the winter sports wrapped up two weekends ago when both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams played in the state championship tournament.
Then last week, all of the spring sports teams kicked off their season. The high school athletes will play regular season matches for a couple of weeks before they head to spring break. Then when they return from their week off, the brunt of their season kicks into high gear.
But probably the biggest early highlight of the spring season deals with the birth of a new local team. This year, the high school started to offer boys’ swimming at the Woodland Aquatic Center for the first time ever. In Colorado, the girls swim in the winter and the boys compete in the water during springtime.
Last week, history was made in Woodland Park as the Woodland Aquatic Center hosted the first boys’ high school swimming meet in school history. Five years ago, after the aquatic center was built, the high school added a girls’ swimming team to their lineup of sports.
But since the school had added boys’ hockey around the same time, they were unable to have a boys’ swimming team due to Title 9 restrictions that say high schools must offer the same amount sports to boys and girls. Last year, the state and the school opened up girls wrestling which allowed the school to add boys swimming to their list of sports offered starting this year.
Currently, there are only six boys on the swimming team under the helm of the girls’ swimming coach, Rusty Bernstein. Bernstein said that the boys competing this year have mainly come from his co-ed swimming club, and that he hopes to generate more interest for the sport in the coming years.
The boys hosted Widefield for their first home meet at the local pool near the high school. They showed up looking fierce and competed hard against their opponents, who seemed to have more competitors and more experience.
During the meet, the boys competed in various types of swimming races at different lengths. In most of the races, the Panthers only had one or two competitors going up against the half a dozen or so Widefield swimmers.
During the swimming races, there were a few Panther swimmers that came out on top with better times than their Widefield opponents. At the meet, there was also a diving competition, but to date there are no boys on the Woodland teams who are competing at the diving board.
Bernstein said that neither the boys’ or girls’ swimming team has had anyone that wants to step up to the diving board and compete. Therefore, the diving competition at the home meet last week only had diving competitors from Widefield.
According to Bernstein, the team, although featuring less competitors than he had hoped for, sports the swimmers who are quite skilled. “We only have six swimmers, but five out of the six are very experienced club swimmers,” the coach said. “I only have one kid that has never swam before. So, our team will be strong we just don’t have a lot of depth, we could use another five or six guys. We are going to have five kids at the state meet because these club swimmers are going to make it they have been swimming for years.”
The high school baseball team is officially back on the diamond as their first match of their regular season took place last Saturday.
The team started their season with a double header at home against the La Junta Tigers. Some seasons the baseball team is not able to start play at home this early in the year, but last Saturday temperatures reached the 50s to welcome the boys to the 2023 baseball season.
Last year, the team struggled to get on top and ended the season with a 3-15 record. This year though, the Panthers have a new head coach, Chris Becker, and the team is preparing to win.
The team continues play with three matches this week. On Tuesday, they take on the Sierra Stallions at home at the Meadow Wood Sports Complex in Woodland Park, then on Thursday they hit the road to play the Sand Creek Scorpions. This Saturday, they play an away game against the Widefield Gladiators.
The Lady Panthers also returned to the field last week and started their season with an away game against the Buena Vista Demons. The girls are looking to have yet another successful season as last year the team finished with a 13-3 record and made it to the post season.
The team’s head coach Marcie James is back this year and she is ready to make it to the playoffs for the second year in a row. The team continues play this Tuesday with a game on the road against the Falcon Falcons. The Lady Panthers host their first home match on Thursday against the Vista Ridge Wolves at the high school at 4:30 p.m.