DES MOINES – After disappointment a year ago, it was excitement and joy for Nodaway Valley’s Elliot Cooney Saturday at the Iowa High School Traditional State Wrestling Tourmanent.
Taking on Cade Cook of North Linn, Troy Mills, Cooney sent the match to overtime on a takedown with 24 seconds left in the third period during the battle for seventh-place Saturday morning.
Tied at 4-4, neither Cook or Cooney could get anything going until the third overtime period. The stalemate was broke when Cooney completed a reversal with eight seconds left on the clock.
Sneaking a glance up at the clock in the final seconds, Cooney rode out the win, pulling up a second early to point up in celebration.
“When I was on top those last four seconds, I looked up and saw it ticking, four, three, and I knew I had it. I just couldn’t hold it back,” said Cooney. “Obviously, it’s not exactly what I wanted, but it was a huge step up from last year and that’s what I’m happy about.”
The prep in the battle for seventh was to leave it all out on the mat, even with the guaranteed medal, and to end with a win.
“It was everything. This is it, my last match of the season and I knew it,” said Cooney. “I knew I wanted to end on a high note. Who wants to go out on a loss? I put everything I could into preparation and I wrestled the best I could. ... This year I was determined way more than last year. I just wanted to come back and get revenge.”
To get his way to seventh, Cooney pinned Paul De Jong of North Mahaska in consolation before falling to Kellen Smith of West Hancock, Britt, who went on to place sixth. The loss to Smith put Cooney in the match for seventh.
After falling into consolation, NV head coach Jesse McCann said a spot on podium was the goal, no matter where, and the success in consolation was big considering how difficult it can be in rounds where a win keeps your season alive and a loss ends it.
“We just told him that your goal is to get on the podium, ... he wrestled great in his blood round, where that’s tough,” McCann said. “Losing a tough quarterfinal match and bouncing back, ... he did great.”
Credit was given to Elliot by McCann, who said he did all things necessary to get better and medal in his third trip to state.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to him. He put in the hard work, and he knew he needed to get better on his feet. That’s one thing we needed to do to get better for state,” said McCann. “As a coaching staff, it feels great to finally get a place winner. It’s been a couple years since we last had one, so hopefully makes us go in the right direction to get better.”
Improving his study of opponents and himself helped make his state run more successful this season.
“More film studying,” said McCann on what changed in prep. “I would say he was better at watching film with us, and he’s one of those kids that’s always mentally prepared. He has that drive that he always wants to get better, so he always takes that extra step. "
With now some success to take home to Greenfield, McCann hopes this will build the program and give Cooney a boost in wanting to get deeper into the bracket as a state semifinalist or finalist.
“Overall, I hope other kids can watch what he did to be successful and they take that and help grow our program even better,” said McCann “... Hopefully, they see we can be successful, even as a really small school. Also for (Cooney), hopefully that gives him confidence that he can make it next year to make it one step closer.”