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Belle Plaine's Tyler Weeda finds niche as Nebraska's athletic trainer
IOWA CITY — Wrestling has always been a part of Tyler Weeda's life.
Growing up in Belle Plaine, he was indoctrinated to the sport at an early age similar to his family, including a number of cousins and uncles. Even when he chose to stop competing at Coe College to focus on academics, Weeda found his way back to the sport.
Weeda is in his fifth season with the Nebraska wrestling program and has been a fixture in the corner of Cornhusker wrestlers. He was hard at work during the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Wrestling has and will be in Weeda's blood, even when he stepped away to devote his time to athletic training studies.
'It's always been a part of our family,' Weeda said. 'The joke is I was born with a singlet on. Everybody in my family wrestled.
'It's a great way for me to stick around the sport without competing,'
Weeda was a three-time honorable mention academic all-state team selection during his prep career. He placed seventh at 140 pounds in 2007 as a senior. He wrestled briefly for the Kohawks, graduating in 2011. He worked with Coe's wrestling team his final year, becoming a graduate assistant athletic trainer for Nebraska. He earned the chance to stay.
'I got my graduate degree there,' Weeda said. 'They hired me on full time and here I am.'
Weeda has worked many high-profile events, including Big Ten and NCAA Championships. He has worked the 2012 USA Wrestling Olympic Team Trials here in Iowa City, the U.S. World Team Trials and state wrestling tournaments. Weeda was at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas in September, as former Cornhuskers Jordan Burroughs and James Green won gold and bronze medals, respectively.
'It was a great experience,' Weeda said. 'I've kind of been there and done that (now), outside of the Olympics. It's really cool for me. I'm only five years into this.
'Obviously, it helps having to work with Jordan Burroughs and James Green.'
Even the world-level competition pales to the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines. The homecoming remains a favorite for him. He was able to work at Wells Fargo Arena, where he made the state podium.
'It was a real moment for me to be back home,' said Weeda, who prefers Veterans Memorial Auditorium where he wrestled his first two years and watched family compete. 'Being in that location again, it brought back a lot of memories for me.'
Weeda didn't envision the path his decision would take him. He said he had no idea what the field was in high school, but athletic training has grown in the last decade and Coe opened that door. He has found his niche at Nebraska.
'The sky has been the limit,' Weeda said. 'I knew coming to Nebraska was going to give me great opportunities and I had to make the best of them.'
COOPER EARNS NCAA BERTH
Iowa's Edwin Cooper Jr. started strong and earned a trip to the NCAA Championships by the end of the first session Saturday.
Cooper helped spark the home crowd, advancing to the 157-pound semifinals and assuring a top-six finish. The conference was allotted seven automatic berths to the national tournament March 17-19 in New York.
Fifth-seeded Cooper opened with a first-period pin over Northwestern's Anthony Petrone. In the quarterfinals, he used a third-period escape and a point from riding time to drop Ohio State's fourth-seeded Jake Ryan, 2-1.
'It's a great feeling, but we have a lot of work to do this weekend,' Cooper said. 'I have to keep moving my feet, improving on my feet. I just have to keep to going for a leg attack. I have to finish.'
Cooper, a former NJCAA national champion for Iowa Central and NCAA Division II finalist for Upper Iowa, circled in during the final seconds, avoiding a second stall call and preserved his lead. He maintained his focused and moved on to face Penn State's top-ranked Jason Nolf in one of three critical Iowa-Penn State semifinal matchups.
'He did a good job,' Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. 'It doesn't have to come down to that. The biggest thing with him is when he gets to the leg (then) finish. He got to the leg a lot, so finish.'
Cooper's wins, including the fall that claimed Iowa's first set of bonus points, drew loud cheers from the crowd. The sound of 'Coooooooop' filled the arena.
'That was awesome,' Cooper said. 'It was great.'
Top-ranked Penn State is attempting to win its fifth conference tournament team title in six seasons. The Nittany Lions helped themselves early with eight bonus points in the opening round. In seven matches, Penn State had pins from top-seeded Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (165) and 197-pounder Morgan McIntosh.
Nico Megaludis (125) and 133-pounder Jordan Conaway added major decisions for the Nittany Lions, which used the extra points for a six-point edge over host Iowa after the first session.
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