LINDSBORG — Smoky Valley wrestling coach Ben Elliott offers a simple explanation as to why his 182-pound pinning machine Austin Cook — who is 39-0 this year after going 44-0 last year at 170 to win his first state title — is so good.
“Austin is good because he works,” said Elliott, who has three other wrestlers who will be competing in the Class 4A State Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Salina. “He puts a lot of time in on the mat. He is constantly working to improve his skill set.”
Cook has been a wrecking ball on the mat, as 34 of his matches have ended early by falls. He is the odds-on favorite to complete a second straight perfect season, with perhaps his best competition coming from Hays’ Ethan Deterding — whom he pinned last week in the regional finals and is on the other side of the bracket. Deterding is ranked No. 2 by the KWCA behind Cook.
Chanute’s Ethan VanAnne (28-4) is another possibility as he’s compiled a sparkling record against quality competition.
Winfield’s 15-14 Ali Viravong drew the short straw for Cook’s first-round opponent.
Other qualifiers for the Vikings are Austin Lustfield at 120, Brandon Archuleta at 145 and Jarod DeMott at 220. Lustfield is 33-11, Archuleta is 34-9 and DeMott, after missing the first six weeks, is now 20-5 and could be a dark horse.
Lustfield goes up against Augusta’s Nathan Moore (25-14) in the first round, while Archuleta locks horns with Labette County’s 24-8 Alex Smith. DeMott takes on Frontenac’s Kyle Loy (25-12) in his attempt to move on to the second round.
“You have to be at your best or you'll be watching from the stands on Saturday night,” Elliott said. “We had a really good regional finals round. I think with the four we have going we should put up some team points.”
The Vikings were third in Class 4A last year as Elliott has put together a quality program that seems to get better every year.