April 17, 2024

WRESTLING: NV alum Cooney thankful to be back on the mat

Former Nodaway Valley standout Elliot Cooney looks for his next shot during a match with Cornell College this season.

Imagine investing much of your life into a sport you love, then you’re told you may not get to compete in that sport ever again because of a medical condition you weren’t aware you had.

That’s where Elliot Cooney found himself going into his freshman season of wrestling at Cornell College. Several months later, and much to his approval, there has been a happy ending to his story.

Cooney graduated from Nodaway Valley in 2022. He’s the winningest wrestler in his high school program’s history at 168 and was a four-time state qualifier.

He learned the news that there was a problem when we went to get his physical for his freshman season.

“They noticed my resting heart rate was elevated to about 130 beats per minute, and that’s obviously really high for resting,” Cooney said.

Additional testing reflected that Cooney had supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), meaning he had an extra electrical signal to his heart, leading it to randomly beat much faster. The structure of Cooney’s heart was also a little off to medical professionals.

“For awhile, they told me I would never wrestle again, that I was done,” Cooney said.

Any answer to whether or not Cooney could wrestle again would come in the effectiveness of ablations, which began in January of his freshman season. An ablation is when doctors insert a catheter into the heart through a vein to attempt to freeze off the electrical signal that is causing the problem.

A first ablation wasn’t entirely successful, however the second one did the trick.

“With more testing, they were able to see my heart was back to a normal rate,” Cooney said. “After that, they cleared me.”

Cooney reports he will have checkups in the future to make sure things are still in the clear, but he’s happy that the ablations were effective and he was able to return to doing what he loves.

Cooney’s return to the mat has been fruitful, and was mostly in the 141-pound weight class. While he finished 11-17 this season and that’s not where he wanted to be, he began to feel like himself again on the mat as the season went along.

The “slow and out of practice” feeling he expected at the beginning of the season was there, but he continued forging ahead anyway.

“I went from them telling me it wasn’t a big deal to something where they were telling me it was going to keep me out of competitive sports for the rest of my life, he said. “That kind of hit me hard.”

All Cooney wants to do now is to continue implementing the drive for success he has on that mat. He quickly noticed the step up in competition from high school. Now nearly every opponent he wrestles is “meant to be there” and were “recruited for a reason,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to continue improving and not be going backward or sitting still,” he said. “This year was a big year for me to keep improving and being aggressive. That time off did a number on that, but once I got back, started practicing, it slowly started coming back, and that was nice to see.”

Cornell competes in NCAA Division III, and it is where Cooney’s classmate Nathan Russell is also a member of the football team.

Cooney said being a member of the wrestling team and studying engineering at the Mount Vernon college has stood the test of time as being a good choice.

“I love it here. The team is amazing and we’re like family. Even the new guys, they come in and we grow so close. The bond is incredible and I wouldn’t trade the team here for anything,” Cooney said. “I also like how the classes are set up (they do one class at a time, eight classes a year), so it’s nice to focus on one thing at a time. That’s especially nice when you’re doing a sport in college. I’m happy with my choice and love the team here.”

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.