LINDSBORG — Smoky Valley wrestling coach Ben Elliott isn’t in the prediction business.
While four of his Vikings were regional champions last week at Colby and will be high seeds for the Class 4A State Tournament that gets under way Friday at Salina’s Bicentennial Center, Elliott would just as soon leave the predicting to the alleged experts.
“I hate to jinx myself with prospects,” said Elliott, whose team was ranked sixth in the final 4A poll and took third last week behind Goodland and Abilene. “The kids wrestled really well at regionals. I hope we can keep that up throughout the state tournament. We look pretty good as far as brackets go, we just have to wrestle. It is a tough tournament, so you have to show up. Our mind-set seems good, so I look forward to a great tournament from our wrestlers.”
The Vikings’ Austin Cook, at 170 pounds, is one of eight undefeated wrestlers in the tournament as he’s 40-0. There could very well be a clash of the titans in the finals, as Atchison’s Tyler Harris is 35-0 at the same weight. It’s a loaded weight class, as Mulvane’s Evan Elson is 36-2 and Goodland’s Colton Cooper is 22-2, though Cook defeated him last week at Colby.
Other Vikings who were regional champions last week were Brandon Archuleta (34-7) at 132, Spencer Bird (32-5) at 182 and Brix Brickey (37-3) at heavyweight. Also qualifying for Smoky Valley was Caden Sare (34-12) at 120, who took third last week.
• TWO BULLPUPS COMPETING – In what was a rebuilding year for McPherson High, which normally sends eight to 10 wrestlers to state, just two will be competing this weekend.
Austin Eldredge (28-9) is at 106 and Kobe Unruh (17-22) is at 160. Eldredge has a tough match right out of the chute with Bryce Garcia (12-2) of Andale, while Unruh is matched against once-beaten (21-1) Andrew Rieschcik of Holton.
MHS coach Doug Kretzer noted both Bullpup wrestlers are just freshmen and that this experience should prove invaluable for the next three years.