Panthers cruise past Stallions

By Kevin Carmody Published: December 9, 2013 | 11:25 pm 0

WOODLAND PARK - A blast of wintery weather last week postponed Woodland Park's season-opening wrestling against Sierra five days.

Through it all, junior Tommy Hancock tried to stay composed.

That was easier said than done for the Panthers' lightweight.

"I don't get nervous, I get anxiety," Hancock said. "It builds up like crazy. We got canceled last week, and I was really excited to go, so that made me pretty upset. I did my best to stay relaxed."

Hancock, in the 120-pound bout, recorded an opening-minute fall on Jacob Hiatt, one of six pins as the Panthers claimed a 54-24 victory over the Stallions.

Xavier Dandurand, Abraham Adair, Jake Morgan and Daniel Corbett got Woodland Park rolling with consecutive pins, all ending in the first two minutes.

Then, Sierra, under first-year coach Marcel Cooper, saw glimpses of his team's potential. At 160 pounds, senior Tod'Zae Perry took control early in the second period and ultimately pinned Sam Garner with 1:10 left on the clock.

"We're starting with the basics, and we have kids who can be successful," said Cooper, a three-time Olympic Trials participant (2000, 2004 and 2008). "We made big improvements from our last tournament at Rocky Ford. We're trying to put wrestling on the map at Sierra, but it'll take some work."

Sierra wrestlers claimed the only two matches to go the entire six minutes.

Jerimiah Fain used a near-fall in the first period to open up a 5-0 lead on Jordan Houck and never trailed in an 11-6 decision at 106 pounds.

At 126 pounds, junior Emileo Ochoa overcame a bloody nose that required two timeouts, then scored the final two points of the match on a second-period takedown in a 5-4 decision.

"I got head butted, but I had to keep going," Ochoa said. "It's fun to watch other guys do well, and the adrenaline goes as you watch it. You think what you can do to do better in your own match. I'm dedicated to getting better."

Woodland Park, which hired two-time Olympic Trials team champion Keith Sieracki to take over head coaching duties before the 2012-13 season, can relate to the growing pains that Sierra will have to endure this season.

"Those guys came to wrestle," Sieracki said. "I know we have something to lose now, but everything they do is a gain. That's where we were last year. Teams are going to have to prepare for them with Marcel (Cooper) coaching them now."

Hancock sees big things for Sierra down the road, but hopefully not at his team's expense.

"I see a team over there that's similar to how it was a few years ago here," Hancock said. "They have a brand-new coach like we did. They were getting into it, and I think they'll be good in a couple of years, maybe where we are now. Hopefully, we can keep up so they don't catch up to us."

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