Offseason dedication has powered Cascade's Nolan Noonan

Cascade junior is ranked ninth, looking for first state berth

Cascade’s Nolan Noonan (top) tries to come over Lisbon’s Cobe Siebrecht during 126-pound championship bout at the 52nd Annual Mount Vernon Wrestling Invitational at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. Siebrecht won with a major decision 12-2. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cascade’s Nolan Noonan (top) tries to come over Lisbon’s Cobe Siebrecht during 126-pound championship bout at the 52nd Annual Mount Vernon Wrestling Invitational at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. Siebrecht won with a major decision 12-2. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CASCADE — Nolan Noonan traveled to the state wrestling meet.

Instead of suiting, up, he was in street clothes watching his teammates and other wrestlers he had beaten compete.

Noonan’s season prematurely ended with third place at the sectional tournament, qualifying for districts as a freshman. The finish burned at him throughout the offseason.

“It motivated me a lot over the summer,” Noonan said. “I realized I had to work even harder, so I did a bunch of camps.”

Cascade’s junior 126-pounder has reaped the rewards of his extra effort. Noonan is ranked ninth in Class 1A and owns a 34-3 record, including a title at the Cougars’ home tournament Saturday.

Noonan learned a hard lesson last season. Wrestlers he had beaten during the season were vying for the hardware he had visions of bringing home. He came away knowing that he was as good as most in the state field.

“I realized that I can do this now,” said Noonan, who has a career record of 105-18 and reached 100 career victories faster than anyone in Cascade history. “I can win big matches.

“We had two wrestlers down there so I went to support them, but that was tough being down there, knowing I should be (wrestling) down there.”

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Noonan made the trip to work with some former college wrestlers and has trained in the Eastern Iowa Wrestling Club. He gained a lot from J Robinson’s 10-day intensive camp.

Cascade Coach Travis Andrews has seen the increased dedication to wrestling at state and becoming the first Cascade state medalist since heavyweight Brad Staner placed fifth in 2005.

“He has set his goals,” Andrews said. “He’s been working hard in the offseason to attend wrestling camps and to reach those goals.”

Noonan has focused on getting better on his feet and being well-rounded. The biggest emphasis was to be better on his feet and more confident.

“When he gets his offense going,” Andrews said, “he’s pretty tough to beat.”

Noonan mentioned he has good practice partners. Teammate Connor Conlin (132) was a state qualifier last season. His younger brother, Aidan, a freshman ranked ninth at 106, has been a bonus. He has enjoyed sharing the varsity season with his sibling.

“We tend to push each other pretty hard in practice,” the older Noonan said. “It’s nice having him around. He understands what is going on. He knows what it takes. We’ve wrestled together for as long as I can remember, so it’s good having him in the room now.”

Two of his three losses have come to Lisbon’s second-ranked Cobe Siebrecht and Don Bosco’s No. 3 Easton Larson. The result indicative of the strides Noonan has made this season came two weeks ago. In the finals of Highland’s Gary Curtis Invitational, Noonan decked New London’s 2016 state finalist and sixth-ranked Sam Loyd in 1:29.

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“He used to beat on me pretty good,” Noonan said. “I went out there and wrestled as hard as I could and I knew before I even went out there I was going to take it to him. It was good but there still is more to be done.

“First of all, it’s making it to state. I want to be on the podium and that is what I have been gunning for. I want to be high on the podium. That is the main goal.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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