Part III: Hard work and opportunity

A willingness to sacrifice
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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Lincoln High wrestlers Kylie Titus and Lucas Cook are turning their prep athletic careers into a pathway to future success. The duo will head for Fargo, N.D., July 14 to wrestle in the National Freestyle Championships after qualifying at the state USA Wrestling Championships at Fresno in April.

But they keep it no secret that their achievements were not handed to them. Both have put in long hours of hard work, once they began seeing the fruits of their labors.

Cook, a sophomore, emphasized it was the hours of hard work he put in that has made him a contender wrestling as a heavyweight. He and Titus not only work out on campus after school, they also wrestle club after hours.

After taking up wrestling as a sophomore, Titus said she has virtually been wrestling year round. Although that meant never making it to a prom, football game or even a dance during high school, her payoff came on the mat at a nationals meet in Oklahoma.

While there, she pinned a wrestler ranked No. 2 in the world.

“It was like a shocker to me that I was able to pin someone that good,” Titus said. “I was the first American within the last four years to (do that). It still doesn’t feel real.”

Greg Harlow, Titus’ high school coach at Lincoln, said if there is a room open where they are looking for wrestlers Titus will be there.

“It’s her passion for the sport; her dedication she puts in with studying technique and working out,” said Harlow. “That goes with anything in life. You don’t have to rely on anybody. It’s going to be all the hard work that you put in.”

With a couple more years of high school to go, Cook was a bit surprised at the success he had at the state meet. But after finishing second he said he lost the championship because he was intimidated and went into the meet with a mindset just to place.

“I was a bit nervous. There were some big dudes out there,” said Cook, with a laugh. “(I just wanted) to place; just to get top eight or top six. Just to go out there and say I’m one of the best in the state.”

Now, both Cook and Titus have a chance to say they are among the best in the nation. They express no regret for the work they have put in and look forward to where that could take them.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 271-pound Cook also plays left tackle for the Lincoln High football team and could have to decide between football or wrestling as far as a scholarship is concerned. Although his mother told him not to concern himself with that issue, Cook said if Stanford University comes calling it won’t matter to him what the Cardinal offers.