WP Boys’ Wrestling Team Prepares for State Tourney

Local Grapplers Snag Second Winning Season in a Row

Trevor Phipps

Photos By Melissa Leonhardt

(Editor’s Note: This article was written before results of the state tournament came through. TMJ has reached out for results but has not heard back from school officials.)

For the last several years, the Woodland Park High School boys’ wrestling team has been a force to reckon with, sending a number of star grapplers to the state championship tournament.

This year, the team is on track to send another handful of star wrestlers to challenge opponents at the state level.

This season, the team has sported a group of younger grapplers with no seniors competing on the mats. The team does, though, have a few juniors who are doing well in their respective weight classes.


Overall, the team’s head coach, Matt Hood, has expressed much satisfaction with the team’s progress, as they finished 6-3 in dual matches for the second year in a row. The regional tournament took place last weekend.  (Results weren’t available as of press time.)


During the regional tournament that took place at The Classical Academy (TCA) this year, the wrestlers that placed in the top four will earn an invitation to the state tournament at the Ball Arena in Denver starting on Friday. However, at the time of this writing, it was not known which wrestlers did well enough to qualify to battle at the state level.

Currently, the team’s top grappler is junior Bryson Leonhardt who is ranked ninth in 3A statewide in the 165 lbs. weight class and had a 25-8 record going into the regional tournament. Junior Aidan Hood is also having a great season with a 23-11 record in the 190 lbs. weight class.


Freshman wrestler Eleazar Fuqua has also impressed the coach wrestling in the 106 lbs. weight class. “He has a really bright future,” Hood said. “He never wrestled a day on the mat and now that kid is a little stud. He might go to state this year because he is tough.”


Two weeks ago, the boys competed in their league tournament and even though none of the Panther wrestlers took first place, a handful of them placed in the top five in their 3A league. Hood took second place in the 190 lbs. weight class, Leonhardt placed second at 165 lbs. and Aaron Douglas snagged fourth at 175 lbs.


According to Hood, the team’s culture has been the primary aspect that has contributed to the team’s success this season. “Hard work is the thing that always pays off for these guys and they kind of understand it and they are starting to come around to it,” the coach explained. “The way they practice and the way they put in their work is a direct reflection of what happens on the mat.”

The coach said that he is proud of the fact that the team has come out and been successful as a whole ,despite not being able to wrestle someone in every weight class. Hood said that he has struggled finding wrestlers for certain weight classes especially in the 215 and 285 lbs. weight classes. This factor has hurt the team in dual matches and tournaments.


The coach said that the key for the wrestlers to continue their success for the rest of the season is to keep putting in the work to improve. The coach said that he has opened the wrestling room in the mornings, so that the wrestlers can get in extra practice and conditioning.

“They really have to put in some extra time,” Hood said. “You better make sure the guy you are going up against didn’t train harder than you at the end of the day. They have to have the mentality that they can go out there and compete against any person, at any time, at any place.”


To start the season this year, the wrestling program at the high school gained a newly remodeled wrestling room with brand new mats to practice on. The coach said that the new room as helped them in  their practices, with more wrestlers getting a chance to use the room at one time.


The room is also more sanitary and the mats have proven to be safer. According to the coach, no wrestlers have sustained any injuries while practicing in the new wrestling room this season.


Next year, the coach said that he plans to have more home matches as the turnout for wrestling matches was better than other sports programs. Hood also said he wants to host a league tournament next year.


The coach said that the wrestlers practice and compete in leagues during the summer and offseason. He said that next year the team will be a contender for the league championship.


“The program has to be hard nose,” Hood said. “If you want to beat Woodland Park you have to come to the table. These kids are really something.”