WODLAND PARK - Something clicked for Tommy Hancock as a freshman and he hasn’t been the same wrestler since.
“I was at a (junior varsity) tournament and I lost really badly to a kid I shouldn’t have lost to,” Hancock said. “That frustrated me. I realized that this is tough. I realized I have to come with everything. I have to get better.”
Hancock is a now a sophomore and one of the top wrestlers for Woodland Park High School. The 113-pounder has a 17-11 record (1-2 at last weekend’s Metro League Championships) and is aiming for a spot at next month’s state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“I definitely plan on going to state this year,” Hancock said. “I’ll have to do a lot of work to place. Next year I definitely plan on placing and being a state champion when I’m a senior.”
Hancock’s confidence comes from making huge improvements in his style and technique.
“I think Tommy is realizing how good he can be,” said Woodland Park coach Keith Sieracki. “But there are still areas he needs to improve on.
“He can wrestle like a champ the first period, but he slows up a little in the second and third periods. He hasn’t figured out how to keep that pace for six minutes.”
Kids in Hancock’s class are quick and fast. The 113-pound division is one of the more exciting weight classes because a match can turn in an instant.
“Little guys wrestle fast and you have to be going all the time,” Sieracki said. “You have to be able to break a guy. You have to be able to snap them. You get to the second and third periods and all the technique goes out the window.”
Hancock finished his freshman year with a losing record, so he committed himself to a tough off-season program. He wrestled all summer and fall under the guidance of Sieracki through Sieracki’s Mat Masters club team.
“I see him as the key to my success,” said Hancock about the former United States Greco-Roman champion. “I take everything from him.”
Hancock also takes notes from some of his Woodland Park teammates, like 160-pounder Thomas Chisholm (27-6), who finished sixth at the Metro League Championships.
“Thomas is a pretty inspirational wrestler,” Hancock said. “I really try to take his knowledge of how he looks at these fighting sports. He knows where his body is all the time and takes advantage of it.”
Hancock’s usual workout partner is fellow sophomore Jesse Weatherill (126 pounds, 18-12 record). Hancock and Weatherill were the only freshmen on varsity last season. Weatherill was one match away from placing at the Metro League Championships.
Sieracki regards the youngsters as a main force in the future success of the program.
“From where Tommy and Jesse came from last year they are amazing,” Sieracki said. “Last year they were trying to figure out the difference between eighth grade wrestling and high school wrestling. These year they both put injuries aside and everything else and put wrestling first.
“They both have a huge learning curve, but they’re closing the gap. I can almost guarantee that both of them will be in the state tournament next year.”
Hancock, of course, is planning to make a state run this year.
“The future of this program is pretty bright,” he said. “I’m very excited to be part of it.”