Local Grapplers Commanding Main Stage Attention
With a new year approaching, high school winter sports are heading into the peak of their respective seasons.
Woodland Park High School teams started their ’23-’24 winter sports action last month, and have already competed in a number of matches and games.
But even though the winter sports season has already started, most teams are still partaking in non-league matches. Following the winter break, their season really kicks into high gear as most teams face key battles against opponents in their league
This year, Panther fans have high hopes for both their boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, as both teams made the playoffs last year. The boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams will also be hungry for state titles. In fact, they have already put together a good start and recently received a newly upgraded practice room.
Last year, there were no grapplers on the boys’ team that qualified for the state championship tournament. In the beginning of last season, the team was very young after losing several star wrestlers to graduation.
This year the team is back, with high hopes as they feature more experienced grapplers. Injuries riddled the boys last year. But according to their coach, new wrestling mats installed in their practice rooms should help eliminate injuries.
This season, both of the wrestling teams also got new competition mats so they can host playoff competitions at home. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams have already played a handful of matches.
Recently, the girls’ wrestling team competed at the Grizzly Invitational Tournament, where they finished in fifth place out of 18 teams. Wrestler Haddy Waak took first place at the Grizzly Invitational and Arial Johns came in third in their weight classes.
Wrestler Cheyenne Becker recently took fourth place at the Pueblo Central Tournament along with snagging a third place finish at the Grizzly Invitational. Lindsay Henggeler came in fourth place at both the Grizzly Invitational and the Pueblo Central tournaments.
In addition, the girls’ team recently won matches against Manitou Springs and James Irwin.
The Panthers are back on the courts for ’23-’24. Their start has been decent even though they only recorded a 1-3 record over their first four matches. The good news is the team has yet to play any league matches so they have a 0-0 league record, meaning that their playoff hopes are still alive.
The boys started their season on Nov. 28 with a tough 62-31 loss against Elizabeth on the road. In their first home game against Pueblo Centennial on Nov. 30, the team fell once again 51-31.
Their third loss came on Dec. 1 when they lost on the road to Harrison 88-22. But then they picked up a 53-41 win when they came back home to play Mitchell on Dec. 2.
The boys played two matches last week, but the results were not available as of press time. The team is now on a break with their next match being on the road against La Junta on Jan. 6. Their next home game is Jan. 9 versus Ellicott.
The Lady Panthers have also had somewhat of a rough start this season, but there is plenty of time for a rebound. The girls have only played four matches so far, but results were only available prior to press time for their first two games.
On Nov. 28, the girls lost in overtime to their league opponent Elizabeth on the road 46-41. They then got beat at home on Dec. 7 by Banning Lewis Academy 38-27.
The team played two matches last week, with one being a league match. The Lady Panthers’ next game will be a non-league match on the road against the Thomas MacLaren School on Jan. 3.
The girls play on the road again in a league match against La Junta on Jan. 6. The team’s next home game is a league match against Ellicott on Jan. 9.
The Panthers have been back on the ice since the beginning of December. But unfortunately, they haven’t fared that well so far. The team has struggled the last couple of years, and the 2023/2024 could also amount to a challenging season.
In fact, the Ice Panthers lost their first four matches, with three of these defeats coming from teams in their 4A South League. The Panthers started their season with a 5-2 loss against Rampart on Dec. 1.
The team lost again on Dec. 2 to Steamboat Springs 6-0. On Dec. 6 Pueblo County beat the Panthers 10-2. On Dec. 11 the team was shut out by Cheyenne Mountain 6-0.
The Panthers play next this Thursday night at 8 p.m. against Summit. After winter break, the team plays Summit again on Jan. 13 followed by a match against Air Academy on Jan. 15.