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Marcel Cooper might be out as Fountain-Fort Carson wrestling coach
PUEBLO – Marcel Cooper, the first-year Fountain-Fort Carson wrestling coach involved in an investigation over alleged violations related to weight certification protocol, might have resigned, days after the postponement of his team's match against Pine Creek.
Cooper, a former Greco-Roman wrestler in the Army's World Class Athlete Program, was not with the team Saturday at the Colt Classic at Pueblo South. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native, competed at the 2008 Olympic trials and is a two-time U.S. national champion.
“No, he’s not our coach,” said Tracy Hancock, moments after his victory in the semifinals at 195 pounds. “He resigned, I think because of the hydration tests.”
Cooper returned a call to The Gazette and refuted Hancock’s comments, saying he had not tendered his resignation and would comment further after a meeting with school administration Monday.
“I haven’t resigned, and I haven't been fired,” Cooper said. “I’m still the coach.”
FFC athletic director Kelley Eichman did not return a call to The Gazette to clarify Cooper’s status.
Frank O’Connor, the wrestling coach in the district the previous five seasons, mentored the Trojans at Saturday’s meet.
“I worked in the district, and Marcel asked if I’d go with the team,” O’Connor said.
Earlier this week, an unidentified member of the Fountain-Fort Carson wrestling team self-reported a rules violation, according to District 8 spokesman John Fogarty.
That allegation of the school not following weight certification protocol caused an investigation Wednesday that forced the postponement of the Trojans’ scheduled match against Pine Creek, the defending 5A state champions.
On Saturday, Fogarty declined comment on Cooper’s status, as did school principal Burnie Hibbard.
“I have no comment,” Fogarty said from his home.
Hancock, ranked No. 3 in the latest On the Mat rankings among 5A wrestlers in his weight class, lamented on the loss of Cooper.
“It’s a lot different, nothing against Coach O’Connor,” Hancock said. “Coach Cooper definitely united the team. He definitely made us stronger.”
Colorado High School Activities Association assistant commissioner Harry Waterman had no updates to the investigation when contacted at his Aurora office late Friday.
“I don’t have all the details, but there was a possible breach in weight certification, I can tell you that,” Waterman said. “Mistakes at any time can be made. This is being investigated whether or not there was a breach, that it was done incorrectly. We don’t want the protocol not being followed. It can be a detriment to the kids.”
To read an earlier story about F-FC postponing a meet this week, click here.