Two elite Alaskan wrestlers sign NLI to next level

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Two of Alaska's top female grapplers are joining one of the premiere wrestling school's in the Nation.

Jolie Lucas, of Eielson High School and McKenzie Cook, of Homer, signed their National Letters of Intent Tuesday to wrestle at McKendree University, a Division II school in Lebanon, Illinois.

The Bearcats finished third at the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association National Championships last year, and was ranked number one in the country for several weeks throughout the season.

Cook has dominated her weight class throughout her high school career.

Cook won the 145 pound division at the state tournament all four years, and earned most outstanding wrestler at the event two times.

Cook, a resident of Homer, spent much of her year training at the Interior Grappling Academy against some of the top wrestlers in the state, which she says has helped prepare her for the next level.

"It actually helped a lot. It was very mentally challenging and physically too," Cook said after signing the dotted line. "It is getting ready for college which is good."

During her time at Eielson, Lucas finished in the top four at state three times, including taking the 103 lb. division crown in last year's state tournament.

"I know it is a very tough school, but if you want to be the best, you have to go to tough school," Lucas said of her decision to join McKendree. "I just started eighth grade year, so if I want to be the best I have to go to a good school and work my way up again. "