Winter Sports Preview in Woodland Park

Photo by Paul Magnuson

Local Seasons Ready to Kick-Off for B-ball, Wrestling and Hockey

Trevor Phipps

Now that 2023 year is winding to an end, the winter sports season in Woodland Park is getting ready to kick off.

In fact, the days of local sports hibernation are screeching to a halt. This week officially marks the end of the sports lull that takes place, following the end of the fall season, capped by high school football and soccer.

The Woodland Park High School winter sports lineup features boys’ and girls’ basketball, hockey, girls’ swimming and diving, and boys’ and girls’ wrestling. The sports teams will initially play a handful of matches with many non-league teams for a month or so, as their respective seasons kick off, just prior to their winter break.

Then at the beginning of 2024, the brunt of the winter sports matches will take place, as teams get into official league action.


The following is an outlook of how the various winter sports teams at Woodland Park High School did last year, and some of the matches they are facing in the coming weeks.


Boys’ Basketball


Last year, the boys’ basketball team was probably the most successful of the winter sports lineup. Under the reins of first year head coach Kyle Crawford, the Panthers continued the success started by former coach Brian Gustafson.


The team finished with an impressive 15-8 overall record and a 10-4 record in their 4A/3A Tri-Peaks League. Their fifth place finish in the league was enough to give the Panthers a taste of playoff action.


During the playoffs last February, the team lost their first postseason match against Colorado Springs Christian School 45-32. But then they won two playoff matches against Florence 57-40 and Banning Lewis Academy 50-42.


With their two postseason victories, the Panthers moved on to the next round of playoffs that took place in early March. However, the boys were eliminated from the postseason after they lost to Roaring Fork 53-48.


This year, Coach Crawford is back with some returning players and they will be looking for another successful season. Like other winter sports, the team’s first few matches are non-league games and a tournament.


This Tuesday, the team has their first match on the road against the Elizabeth Cardinals followed by a home tournament battling Pueblo Centennial on Thursday. They then play in a tournament against the Harrison Panthers on December 1 and the Mitchell Marauders on December 2.


On December 12, the team plays on the road against Sky View Academy. The team’s first league match takes place on December 14 with a road game against Rye. The Panthers first home league game is slated for January 9 against Ellicott.


Girls’ Basketball


This year, the boys won’t be the only hoopsters looking to return to the playoffs. The girls’ basketball team also saw much success last year with a trip to the postseason.


Last year, the Lady Panthers impressed fans with a 14-11 overall record and a 7-7 league tally. The girls finished in eighth place in their 4A/3A Tri-Peaks league and they ranked high enough to see postseason play.


During the playoffs in late February, the Lady panthers started their postseason with a big win against Florence 86-20. They then lost to St. Mary’s 87-43 and Salida 41-37.


But their playoff stint didn’t end there. Before the playoff tournament ended, the team beat Rye 61-48 enabling them to advance to the next round.


During the first weekend of March, the girls won in a close one to Ignacio 50-49. But then during their second match, they were eliminated from the playoffs after they lost to Platte Valley 60-33.


Last year, the team was rather young so head coach Gary Lays will have some returning stars. The team hopes to keep improving and prove that both hoopster teams at the high school can snag a reputation as b-ball teams to reckon with.


The girls have a young team again with a few returning players to start their season this Tuesday on the road against Elizabeth. The ladies then spend most of the month of December playing non-league matches and tournaments.


The ladies play their first league match on the road against Rye on December 15. Their first home match takes place on January 9 versus Ellicott.


Boys’ and Girls’ Wrestling


This year grapplers will be back on the mats and they will be practicing on brand new mats in a refurbished practice room. The wrestling program now also has a new competition mat that will allow them to host bigger tournaments.


Last year, the boys’ grapplers had a number of strong competitors but they had few upperclassmen. Unfortunately, none of the boys qualified for state, but they will be looking to improve this season.


The girls had success with four year star wrestler Trinity Diamond impressing her coaches. Last season, the girls’ wrestling team sent two female grapplers to college on wrestling scholarships.


The boys start their season on the road against Rye this Wednesday and then they play a home tournament against Manitou Springs on Thursday. The girls wrestle in their first tournament on Thursday at home against Manitou Springs and then they travel to Pueblo Central for a tournament on the road on Friday.




Even though the sport starts a little later, local hockey fans will still experience live action on the ice soon. The team hopes it can improve from last year and show the state that the mountain kids mean business when it comes to ice hockey.


Last year, the Ice Panthers finished their season with a 5-9 overall record and a 4-4 league record. They finished in fourth place in their 4A South Division, but it was not good enough to make it to the playoffs even though they finished their season with two big wins.


This year head coach Travis Seabolt is back with the team playing their first match this Saturday against Steamboat Springs. The Panthers then play their first league match next Wednesday against Pueblo County.