McPherson High and Smoky Valley could almost ride the bus together as they compete Friday and Saturday in the Class 4A Regional Wrestling Tournament at Hays.
The youthful Bullpups have been ravaged by illness and injuries as they haven’t had the lineup coach Doug Kretzer would like to put on the mat all year.
Realistically, Kretzer would like to get at least a half-dozen wrestlers on through to state. Austin Eldredge, at 106, is ranked second in his class and is the Bullpup who has the best chance to win a regional title.
The Bullpups have been strong down low and at the upper weights. In dual matches this year, they generally have been strong at the first three weights and the last four, with inexperience dotting the lineup in the middle.
Smoky Valley, on the other hand, has been a state-ranked team at times and has six wrestlers with at least 20 wins.
Highlighting the entries is Austin Cook, who is No. 1-ranked at 182 pounds and is 35-0 on the year. Cook was undefeated last year in winning the 170-pound division. He has crushed everything in his way and is the odd-on favorite to grab the state gold.
Other Vikings to watch are Austin Lustfield at 120 (29 wins), Caleb Sare at 126 (25), Austin Golden at 138 (23), Brandon Archuleta at 145 (30) and Nils Peterson at 195 (24). Jarod DeMott, at 220 pounds, joined the team after Christmas once he recovered from knee surgery and has 17 wins in limited action.
In addition to MHS and Smoky Valley, also in the field are Abilene, Buhler, Chapman, Clay Center, Colby, Concordia, Goodland, Thomas More Prep, Nickerson, Rock Creek, Hayden and Wamego. Colby is ranked No. 5 in the state and Abilene is No. 6.
The action begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday and then continues at 11 a.m. Saturday.