OMAHA – Northwest’s Austin Cooper faced a familiar opponent in the Class B, 160-pound final.
The No. 5-rated Viking had faced No. 2 Marcus Dodson in the Class B, District 3 final just a week before and suffered a 2-1 loss.
Cooper battled, but the end result was still the same as he fell to Dodson 4-3 Saturday at the CenturyLink Center.
Dodson broke a 2-all tie in the third period on a reversal with 1:28 left and held on.
Northwest coach Brian Sybrandts said Cooper gave a good effort.
"I told him to wrestle a smart match and I thought he did that. Dodson is like Austin as he likes to throw people and Austin stayed in good position throughout the match," Sybrandts said. "Austin wrestled well but just fell a little short."
In a match where both wrestlers had numerous chances to throw each other, neither was successful in doing so. After Cooper scored an escape to take an early 1-0 lead in the second period, Dodson recorded a takedown with 1:09 left. Cooper managed to tie the match with another escape.
After Dodson took the lead on the reversal, Cooper almost had an opportunity to get one of his own with about 40 seconds left. Dodson countered it and didn’t let Cooper get behind him. Cooper got another escape but couldn’t get the winning takedown.
"I got to give Marcus credit, he did a great job countering my stuff there," Cooper said. "He tried to throw me a couple of times and I did as well. It was really a great match for both of us."
Cooper missed most of the season after tearing his labrum during the Central City Invite and was thought to be done for the season. He came back just in time for districts.
Cooper said he’s proud of what he did in the postseason considering he feels fortunate to even be wrestling.
"I didn’t even think I would be in this position about a month ago," Cooper said. "I was hurt all season. But I got this far, tried my hardest and left it all out on the mat but Marcus just wrestled the better match today."
Sybrandts said Cooper, who finished his career as a two-time medalist, has nothing to hang his head over.
"For him to finish state runner-up after what he’s been through this year was just amazing," Sybrandts said. "He’s a hard worker and he’s done a lot for us over the years. Getting second is a big thing for our program."
The Vikings had another medalist in Mark Zepeda, who finished fourth at 285 pounds. His only loss of the tournament came to Plattsmouth’s Jason Nanke.
Those efforts left the Vikings finishing tied for 14th with 42 points in the Class B standings. Sybrandts said he happy that the two Viking seniors got to finish their careers with medals.
"Mark really had a great tournament for us," Sybrandts said. "He split time with Dayne Jaros last year and he just worked his tail off for us this year. He came in with a lot of confidence after winning a district title last week and really performed well. I’m proud of both our seniors with the way they went out."