Woodland Park High School Wrestling Program Gets Major Community Boost

Grapplers to Start ’23-’24 Season With A Completely Renovated Home Facility

Trevor Phipps

After wrestling made its way to the Woodland Park High School in the 1960s, the area has welcomed the sport with open arms.

In fact, local grapplers have created a legacy that has put fear in the minds of other wrestling schools for decades.  In recent years, the local high school has produced several star wrestlers who have taken home a slew of state championship trophies. Recent graduate Brady Hankin won first place in state three out of the four years of his high school career, and was often considered a future Olympic contender.

This year, the team is one of the youngest in recent history with zero seniors hitting the mats. But now the good news: The team will start their season with brand new mats and a completely renovated wrestling room, thanks to amazing support from the community and the school district itself.

No one can argue that their aging facility needed renovation.

The mats that the team was using were the same ones the wrestling room had dating back to the 1980s. But after a collaboration of community members and school district support over the past year, the room has now gone through major changes and will put the Woodland Park facility on the map as a top place for grapplers to practice and compete.

“We tore everything out,” said boys’ wrestling head coach Matt Hood. “We tore every old mat and every bit of the sub-floor. We replaced it all and it looks good.”

He said that as soon as he took the reins of the coaching program last year, he and the girls’ high school, middle school and junior club wrestling head coach Dustin Rodriguez agreed that they needed to utilize more of the space in the room. The room had old mats that didn’t reach all four corners and un-level floors.

Hood said that shortly after taking the head coaching position, he began to search for new mats for the room. At first, the quote the coach got for the improved mats was more than $24,000, well above their budget for the improvements.

However, the wrestling coach used a little ingenuity to allow the school grapplers to develop a much improved and needed facility.

Hood initially redesigned the mats, and he was able to get the price lowered. He then offered to have the mats shipped to a tournament in North Dakota, which reduced the price to around $13,000.

Hood then secured a donation of $3,500 from the Athletic Boosters Club. The wrestlers, meanwhile, raised $2,200 on their own, and the school district was able to come up with the rest of the money.

The wrestling team also received sponsors to pay for other details. Florissant Family Medicine, Mallet Excavating, Cary Carpenter and others donated some funds for the room as well.

Hood finally drove 28 hours and 1,900 miles to pick up the end mat product.

The new grappling mat now reaches all corners of the room and it is lightweight to remove. With the new setup,  the school can host top championship competitions.

Moreover, the wrestlers played a major role in the room’s renovations. “There are a lot of people that put their work into it,” Hood said. “Former coach Keith Sieracki started by purchasing the wall mats and then our girls’ wrestling team went in and repainted the room and really put on the finishing touches to make it look good. And the boys came together to do all of the heavy lifting and replaced the floors and did the plaster. The wrestlers have put all of the work into the room.”

Now the room can sport 50 to 60 wrestlers practicing at once. Before the room had a maximum of 30 at one time. The mat renovations also can last 20 years.

Hood also said that the new mats will better assure the safety of the athletes. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will reduce the chance of injuries,” the coach said. “Prior to putting the mats in we had pieces of mats and it was off-level. You could catch and trip and roll your ankle. It was a huge injury concern.”

Saving History

Despite the room being brand new, Hood did try to save parts of the old room for historic purposes. The old “WP” logo on the old mats will be framed and hung on the walls.

Hood also found jerseys from the late 1980s that will be framed and hung on the walls. He said that he plans to host an alumni night during which anyone who had previously wrestled in the room can go and see the new renovations.

The coach also said that with the new capacity in the room, he hopes to recruit more boy and girl wrestlers. He said that since Cripple Creek-Victor High School does not offer a wrestling program, those students are welcome to wrestle in Woodland Park.

Anyone who is interested in wrestling at WPHS is asked to e-mail the Woodland Park High School Athletic Director, Chad Cosner at ccosner@wpsdk12.org.