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Whitehall’s Cook brothers share in wrestling state title: ‘You can’t get anything better’

Shane Cook realizes dream with 62-0 record, Division 3 crown at 285 pounds, but he’s quick to credit twin Jackson Cook.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

DETROIT – Offensive linemen often fantasize about running the football.

When Whitehall senior Shane Cook completed his perfect wrestling season on a mat layed on the new turf of Ford Field Saturday, he showed his quick feet by racing up the stairs of the grandstands.

Moments later, you could see brother Jackson Cook darting up the stairs after him. Jackson was a running back for the Vikings’ football team, but he had trouble catching up to his twin, who played guard.

“You know, maybe I should have been running back,” Shane Cook said with a smile and a shrug once everybody finally caught up to him. “But I’m not bitter about it.”

Shane Cook has been chasing this dream for a long time and he finally has it in his grasp: A state championship.

The stout 5-foot-9, 231-pounder put his good footwork and years of work to use by capping his high school wrestling career in storybook fashion. Cook decisioned Birch Run senior Landen Roe, 9-5, in the 285-pound title match for Division 3 of the MHSAA’s individual state finals.

That left Cook’s season record at a flawless 62-0. He was 172-16 in his career with 118 pins, 42 of them coming this season.

He’s the fourth Whitehall wrestler to finish a season as an undefeated state champion, joining Ira Jenkins (2021, 2022) and Tim Cooper (1980). Cook is the second straight unbeaten heavyweight for the Vikings, as Jenkins pulled the feat last year.

“Oh, man, it’s everything,” Cook said. “You know, finishing team state finals runner-up, that was great. Finishing as a state champ – I mean, there’s no other, better way to end a high school career than that.

“I’m at a loss for words. It doesn’t even feel real right now.”

The outpouring of emotion among the Cook brothers, their family, coaches, teammates and friends on the concourse area of Ford Field had all the feels.

Family was wondering where Shane ran off to following his match. They assumed he was looking for them but couldn’t find him.

After a few minutes, he came running up and gave his mother a big hug.

“I wanted to see my family. Without them, none of this would have happened,” Shane Cook said. “They are really the reason I’m here – family, friends, everybody that supports me, coaches, everybody. I just wanted go to the people who made it all happen.”

Whitehall senior Shane Cook embraces and lifts mother Jeanna Cook in an emotional celebration following Shane winning a state wrestling championship Saturday, March 4, 2023, at Ford Field in Detroit. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

When Jackson joined the impromptu party, he was visibly emotional and sobbing as he embraced his mother.

When the brothers hugged in a heartfelt moment, Shane thanked Jackson for helping him and told him he would not have won the state title without his help. Shane said to his brother, “I love you.”

As brothers themselves, Whitehall co-coaches Justin and Collin Zeerip can certainly understand the emotions overwhelming the Cooks. The Zeerips are grateful they got the chance to coach both of the Cooks this season.

“It was awesome,” Justin Zeerip said. “Jackson didn’t wrestle as a sophomore or junior, so getting him back was really great.

“They have a really close bond. They’re typical brothers, you know – they love each other, they’ll get into little skirmishes here and there, but they always have each other’s back. They push each other every day. They’re both great leaders. They just helped lead our team so much this year, I can’t really explain it.”

Beyond leadership, the Cooks gave Whitehall a strong one-two punch on their end of the lineup.

Despite not wrestling the previous two years, Jackson Cook turned in an all-state season. He placed fourth in the 215-pound weight class and finished his season with a 48-4 record.

But as Jackson has stated, he wrestled this season more for his brother than for himself. If he had the choice of winning a state title himself or seeing his brother win one, then it’s a no-brainer for Jackson.

“Shane, easily. Without a doubt. It’s not even really a question,” Jackson said. “He’s way more dedicated to the sport, he wants it more than me. He has a true love for the sport, so I 100 percent, like, 10 out of 10 times, I’m picking Shane.”

In his title match, Shane Cook was never really threatened. He built a 5-0 lead over Roe, whom he defeated 9-2 in the regional semifinals a couple weeks ago, and did enough to maintain the upper hand.

Cook said he didn’t feel his best Saturday, but he had enough in the tank to get the job done. He admitted that while he lying on his stomach near the end of the match and riding out the time with a four-point lead, he was experiencing a range of emotions.

Cook’s mind immediately went to those who helped him realize his goal. It went to his family and especially to his brother.

Iron sharpens iron, which is what happened in Whitehall’s wrestling room as the Cooks tangled in practice all season. They helped create that competitive edge for each other, but deep down, the brothers do have some tenderness in their hearts.

“The way we finished (the season) is exactly what we planned for. I didn’t really have a certain goal in mind. The goal I had was to watch him win this championship,” Jackson Cook said.

“We were in the practice room every day, going at each other. You know, obviously brothers fight and we get after it, but all of that is just for this place (individual finals at Ford Field) and team state,” said Shane Cook, who settled for third place in the 215-pound weight class of Division 2 in 2022, finishing with a 50-3 record.

“That’s what it’s all for and just to have it end the way it did, for both of us to walk away with what we wanted, you can’t get anything better.”


Whitehall’s Cook brothers: Fraternal twins who are not much alike but share unbreakable bond

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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