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Perry (Okla.) coach Ronnie Delk takes new job in Arkansas

After eight years as head coach at Oklahoma's Perry High School -- the nation's most successful prep wrestling program -- Ronnie Delk is heading east to Arkansas, where he will be joining the coaching staff at Bentonville High School, according to multiple media reports.

Delk told The Oklahoman -- the daily newspaper of Oklahoma City -- this move is what's best for he and his family.

"My wife and I have been doing a lot of talking and praying," Delk said. "(The move) is allowing me to get back to what's really important to me, and that's my family."

Delk led the Perry wrestling program for eight seasons. During that span, the Maroons captured eight dual state titles and five team titles. Delk coached 16 individual state champions during his time, including three this season.

Delk was the first Perry head coach since 1931 not to have wrestled for the Maroons. Instead, Delk was a two-time Oklahoma state champion at Collinsville, then wrestled for John Smith at Oklahoma State in the early 2000s. He came to Perry High as an assistant coach, serving for five years under Hall of Fame coach Scott Chenoweth, who headed up the Maroon mat program for 16 years. Delk first took the helm at Perry High for the 2011-12 school year.

Delk will be moving from the top wrestling program in Oklahoma to arguably the best large program in Arkansas. With nearly 3,900 students in grades 9-12, Bentonville High competes in Class 6A in Arkansas -- the state's largest classification -- and won the 2019 state championship by nearly 100 points.

The wrestling program at Perry High School has a rich legacy going back more than 90 years. Located in the small town of Perry in north-central Oklahoma -- about halfway between Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas -- the Perry Maroon mat program has tallied remarkable accomplishments, especially for a high school that has just over 300 students, including 43 Oklahoma state championship teams ... 20 dual state champion teams ... and 112 individual state champions ... not to mention two Olympic medalists: Jack VanBebber (gold medal, 1932 Los Angeles Olympics) and Dan Hodge (silver medal, 1956 Melbourne Olympics).

Earlier this year, with coach Ronnie Delk at the helm, the Perry Maroons won their 1,000th dual meet ... a record only three other high schools in the nation can claim.

If that weren't enough, the program is the subject of a documentary in the works, "The Price of Legacy: Wrestling with a Dynasty." And its wrestlers have been honored with a Perry Wrestling Monument Park in downtown Perry.

As Ronnie Delk plans to leave this legendary program, the coach offered this statement to The Oklahoman: "It was an amazing opportunity. To be a part of it for the past 8 years is just a blessing."

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