MANITOU SPRINGS - For having never wrestled until a few months ago, Thomas Chisholm is turning out to be a pretty solid grappler.
The Woodland Park High School senior improved to 17-0 this season after dominating all five of his opponents at the Jan. 5 Westside Tournament. The six-school event was held at Manitou Springs High School and included Discovery Canyon, Peyton, St. Mary’s, Widefield and Manitou Springs.
“I definitely respect this sport,” Chisholm said. “There are a lot of tough kids.”
Three of Chisholm’s matches last Saturday lasted less than a minute. In fact, he pinned all of his opponents; something that has become habit this season.
“I’d rather pin a guy and get it over quicker,” he said.
Chisholm is enjoying monumental success with relatively little experience. But to be fair, he didn’t just fall off the turnip truck and onto a mat.
“I’ve spent the last six years doing Judo; pretty much year round,” Chisholm said. “Some of the same techniques used in Judo can be used in wrestling.”
Techniques such as take downs and exposing an opponent’s weaknesses during a match have contributed greatly to Chisholm’s success.”
“For any kid, regardless of what you did as a sport, to be 17-0 is pretty amazing,” said Woodland Park coach Keith Sieracki, who was among the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world for nearly two decades.
“Not only does he have great ability as a wrestler, but he has great leadership skills. He’s real humble and a hard worker.”
Chisholm is also not your run-of-the-mill judo fighter. He was a gold medalist at the 2011 Junior Olympics. He trains at Suzuran Dojo in Divide under the direction of Jeff Laurell.
“There are a lot of similarities between Judo and wrestling,” Chisholm said. “The biggest difference is that there’s a lot more conditioning in wrestling.
“It’s definitely better than I thought it would be. It’s definitely fun. It’s a blast.”
It hasn’t taken long for Chisholm’s Woodland Park teammates to notice that the newest member of the team is equipped with a pretty good skill set.
“He’s got great awareness,” Woodland Park senior heavyweight Caelan Garner said of Chisholm. “Now that he’s starting to learn stuff he’ll be real good.”
Chisholm often practices with Garner, despite giving away 30 to 40 pounds. Chisholm also works with fellow 160-pounder Jon-Jon Hinton and 170-pounder Josh Smith.
“He has really good balance,” Hinton said of Chisholm. “He’s strong. He’s mellow. He’s calm. He’s focused.”
Chisholm’s biggest challenge to date will be this weekend when Woodland Park competes in the 12-school Legend tournament in Parker. Also at the tournament will be Pine Creek, Rock Canyon, Mesa Ridge, Horizon, Lewis-Palmer, Vista Ridge, Overland, Thunderridge, Kennedy and Mead.
“Thomas will run into some kids this weekend who will give him a test,” Sieracki said. “He’ll become battle-hardened. He’ll get valuable experience.”
Chisholm just might be Woodland Park’s best all-around male athlete. He played soccer for the first time last fall and earned a starting forward spot on the school’s team.
“I only did soccer for the conditioning, but I really liked it,” Chisholm said.
Despite his wrestling success, Chisholm maintains a humble approach as he continues in his quest for a state championship and a college scholarship.
“I think better opportunities will present themselves as the season goes along,” Chisholm said. “I never thought about doing wrestling in college, but I think it’s something I might like to do.”
As for his future in judo, Chisholm plans on pursuing more success at the national stage.