Woodland Park wrestler Brady Hankin aims for fourth state title | Mail from Pikes Peak

Three down, one for Brady Hankin.

The Woodland Park junior won his third state wrestling championship in three tries on March 12 in Pueblo and now has his sights set on making history in the sport he eats, breathes and lives.

“I’m going to keep doing the same thing I did,” Hankin said. “If I can improve a little every day and stay fit, that won’t be a problem.”

Hankin’s father, Casey, is Woodland Park’s coach and one of his son’s personal trainers. Casey knows winning a fourth state title will take hard work.

“Now the plan is to pick up speed and take it to the next level,” Casey said. “He has a target on his back and he knows it.”

Twenty-nine prep wrestlers in Colorado history have won four state titles. The latest member to join this group is Vince Cornella from Monarch this winter. The first was Bob Thompson of Montrose (1956-59).

“It would be a disappointment if I didn’t win next year,” Brady Hankin said. “I expect to win, but I’m not going to take anything for granted.”

Hankin has perfected the art of staying in the moment.

“I go to every game thinking about the state finals,” he said. “I can’t assume a match will be easy.”

Hankin’s state titles have come in three different weight classes – 106, 120 and 138. He doesn’t see another dramatic leap in weight next season.

“Maybe 145s,” he said. “But I doubt I would go as far as 152s.”

After his last title, Hankin took a few weeks off from training. He will return to the ring in April when he travels to Virginia Beach for the High School Nationals.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Hankin, who verbally committed to wrestling for the University of Northern Colorado. “The best kids in the country will be there. There are already 100 registrants in my weight class.

Hankin also plans to compete in national duels this spring, summer and fall ahead of the upcoming high school wrestling season. The season usually starts in November.

“I’m always very motivated for high school games,” Hankin said. “You’re always going to have a tough game in your state.”

Hankin was 16-0 this season and is 88-2 overall in high school. He said his toughest match at the start of the month was actually his semi-final struggle with Valley’s Zach Brown, whom Hankin beat in the area to hand Brow their only loss of the season.

In their rematch, Hankin and Brown were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation and needed overtime to decide things. Hankin didn’t waste much time getting the points he needed in the extra frame when he got a two-run out in the first 20 seconds.

“I think I should have fought him in the finals, but I’m not doing the ranking,” Hankin said.

No matter who Hankin fights over the next few years, rest assured that he won’t take any opponent lightly.

Robert J. King