The alarm clock goes off at 4 a.m.
The sun has yet to rise, but Alex Cooley soon finds himself on a drive with his dad from their East Prospect Borough home to Gold’s Gym in York Township. Sometimes teammate Camden Stoops tags along. The group meets Cooley’s older brother, Shane, a former Eastern York and York College heavyweight wrestler. They then go through a routine that lasts roughly 90 minutes. Workouts vary from legs and neck to shoulders and triceps to back and biceps.
Then it’s back home for a quick shower and a bite to eat before heading off to school, which is followed by a practice or game.
“We go four days in a row, a day off,” Cooley said before Tuesday’s wrestling practice at Eastern York High School.
Cooley, a senior at Eastern, has stuck to this routine throughout the school year since the ninth grade. It’s no wonder the 5-foot, 8-inch multi-sport athlete is built like a tank. Cooley said he maxed out at 455 pounds on the bench press over the summer. He’s also dead-lifted 455 pounds and squatted more than 600 pounds.
But he’s learned he’s going to have to rely on more than just his strength to meet his goals this weekend in the three-day PIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament, which begins Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Cooley is one of 12 York-Adams League wrestlers slated to compete in the state tournament in Class AAA. Eight York-Adams wrestlers will compete in Class AA.
Accomplished: Everyone familiar with Cooley knows his many accomplishments by now.
On the track, he finished third last season in the 100-meter dash at the York-Adams Track and Field Meet with a time of 11.10 seconds.
On the football field, he set new league records in career rushing yards (6,015), career touchdowns scored (80) and rushing yards in a single season (2,845). He’ll play football next season at NCAA Division II East Stroudsburg.
“They have the business program that I want,” Cooley said. “And it’s cheap. They’re going to give me about $3,000 a year on a (partial) athletic scholarship. I love it up there.”
On the mat, Cooley took third at 182 pounds at districts and placed fifth at states in Class AA last year. In Eastern’s jump up to Class AAA this year for postseason competition, Cooley took fourth place at 195 pounds at the District 3-AAA Tournament two weeks ago to qualify for the PIAA tournament.
“There’s not much of a strength gap that there was for (Cooley) at AA, where most kids he could just overpower,” Eastern coach Dan Garner said. “There are kids now that match up with him in strength, so he has to use more speed and technique to win those matches.”
Cooley entered this year’s district tourney a perfect 31-0 on the season and won his first two bouts to reach the semifinals, where he lost, 11-2, to Big Spring sophomore Tommy Rayhart.
“I needed to lose one,” Cooley said. “I felt like I needed to get that out of the way.”
Cooley later qualified for states by reaching the third-place bout, where he lost, 3-2, to Lampeter-Strasburg senior Jeff Pickel, who placed third at districts for the second year in a row.
“It was 3-2 or something, so it’s not like I got beat bad or nothing like that,” Cooley said.
In addition to his early-morning workouts, Cooley has been preparing for states by practicing against his coaches and Stoops (220 pounds), a senior who will wrestle at Gettysburg College next year.
“I think I can place in the top eight,” Cooley said of his goal this weekend. “If there’s an opportunity for me to win it I’m gonna try.”
– Reach John Walk at email@example.com.
—WHAT: The PIAA Individual State Wrestling Championships.
—WHERE: The Giant Center in Hershey.
—WHEN: The first-round matches begin at 9 a.m. Thursday for Class AA and at 4 p.m. Thursday for Class AAA. The three-day tournament wraps up Saturday with Class AA championships being held at 2 p.m. and the Class AAA championships held at 7 p.m.
—WHO: Twelve York-Adams League grapplers will compete in Class AAA: Eastern York’s Alex Cooley (195 pounds); Central York’s Dylan Chatterton (106); West York’s Kyle Narber (170); Dallastown’s Rodney Sunday (126), Wes Hoover (138), Tanner Druck (152) and Cooper Deller (182); Kennard-Dale’s Chance Marsteller (160); South Western’s Aram Moffitt (220); and Spring Grove’s Derek Carlisle (113), Zack Clingan (120) and Mason Bentzel (145).
Eight York-Adams wrestlers will compete in Class AA: Bermudian Springs’ Briton Shelton (145) and Tristan Sponseller (170); Biglerville’s Jasper Hankey (138), Josh Asper (170) and Trevor Stover (285); Hanover’s Ian Brown (132) and Tyler Shafer (138); and Fairfield’s Nick Mort (160).