- To start, I think I’m gonna start a new series that is “Remember The Wrestler-esque,” but based on Seniors in HS. The name of the series at this point is “Senior Moments,” but I’m not set on that quite yet. If any of you have any other suggestions on names for this series, hit me up with them!
So I finished a new reel and it was 16 minutes long. And it was on Aidan Noonan in his past two undefeated state championship seasons… Check it out!!!
Ok, so this article is obviously about Cascade’s 2X state champion and current Senior, Aidan Noonan. I’ve heard about this kid for a long time, for his coaches were teammates/practice partners/friends of mine at Loras College. They’ve been excited about this kid for a while.
To kick things off, I am going to address the elephant in the room that will be ever-present with Noonan, probably forever… And that’s Adam Allard from West Sioux. Most of you likely heard that Noonan defeated Allard in the finals last year as a Junior in which Allard was a Senior going for his 4th title. And he did it by turning Allard to his back for near fall in the last seconds of the 3rd period. A Senior going for 4 and falling short in his last finals match is something that had never happened before unless you count Topher Carton, from Assumption. Carton won 2 of his titles in Illinois before moving to Iowa as a Junior and winning state that year and losing a close finals match to Brandon Sorensen in the finals as a Senior. A lot of people don’t count that… I do. I live right across the bridge from Illinois and we wrestled our share of Illinois competition when I was in high school. Winning the Illinois HS State tourney is a big deal. There are tough dudes scattered all over that state. In my mind, Allard was not the first person this happened to…Carton was. Regardless, I wanted the dust to settle a bit before even mentioning Allard’s 2020 state tournament anywhere on the site or social media. I met Adam Allard when I wrote his Senior Spotlight article for The Predicament. Incredibly nice person and is much more mature and determined compared to the average kid his age. And I’ve had one encounter with his family…This was in 2018 when my youngest brother, Brennan was wrestling in the semifinals at state and we were trying to find a good spot where we could actually see the match, but there was some log-jammage with people in that section at that time and we couldn’t see anything…that is until Adam Allard’s mom went out of her way to help clear a path for us to find a spot where we could see his match with no interference. A random act of kindness was the one experience I had with the Allard family….
So I decided to wait until it appeared that Allard bounced back from it and judging by the intensity the kid has shown in clips of offseason competition this summer, he seems to be on his way to bouncing back in a big way. I think he will do well at the next level. The one finals match he had vs. Aidan Noonan in 2020 should not define his legacy, but if anyone is capable of derailing that from happening, it is him. Best of luck to him.
And there are several other interesting things about Aidan’s last two championship seasons besides just the Allard match. Take a look:
- Aidan’s father, Jason, wrestled for Cascade when he was in high school. His coach was Dale Andrews. Dale is the father of Travis, Tom and Tim Andrews. Travis is Aidan’s head coach.
- Head Assistant Coach, Alex Ressler is a former placer for Cascade in the early 2000’s. He’s been Aidan’s coach since youth. Alex gave Aidan the nickname, “The Bernard Bulldog” when Aidan was in youth wrestling because Aidan is from a tiny community that is part of Cascade’s school district called Bernard, IA. He called him a bulldog because he is “tough and will never back down from a fight.”
- Aidan’s brother, Nolan Noonan graduated in 2019 and placed 6th and 5th at state for Cascade.
- Aidan is Cascade’s first ever state champion. And now he has done it twice.
- Aidan was Cascade’s first state finalist since 1985 when Roger Koppes placed 2nd.
- In Aidan’s two state championship seasons, every guy he has wrestled at state, went on to fight back and place, indicating that Aidan hasn’t been gifted by any bracketing Gods. All 8 matches at state vs. state placers… battle-tested.
- Aidan defeated Beau Klingensmith from Woodbury Central 4-2 in the finals in 2019 and defeated Allard by the same score. Those 4 points are the only ones he has given up at the state tournament. Noone has scored a mere point in the other 6 matches.
- In Aidan’s Sophomore year he wrestled guys from; West Sioux, Logan Magnolia, Woodbury Central and Denver…. In Aidan’s Junior year, he wrestled guys from West Sioux, Logan Magnolia and Woodbury Central again. Instead of a Denver opponent, he wrestled someone from Mepo.
- As you all know, Aidan won his finals match by scoring Nearfall points in the last seconds of the match, but he ALSO won his semifinals match by doing this as well. He defeated Beau Klingensmith from Woodbury Central 2-0 by scoring nearfall with only a few seconds remaining. I don’t know if this has ever happened before.
- Aidan defeated Beau Klingensmith in the finals in 2019 and in the semifinals in 2020. These two go way back. A few years ago, Klingensmith defeated Noonan in the semifinals at USA State and for 3rd and 4th place at AAU State. These two have a nice little rivalry going.
- When Aidan won state as a Sophomore, a lot of people kind of seemed to think he came out of nowhere, but Aidan placed 4 times at AAU State and won it once… and that’s without being able to wrestle in the tournament as an 8th grader due to injury.
To go with this, I interviewed headcoach Travis Andrews and he provided some great insight about Aidan Noonan and Cascade wrestling.
1.) How long did you know that you had a potential state champion in the works with Aidan?
Coach Andrews: Coach Alex Ressler was a physical education teacher at Cascade Elementary and said that the Noonan boys coming up would be solid if they kept working hard. I don’t remember when Aidan said it, but he said it back in elementary school sometime that he was going to be Cascade’s first State Champion. Coach Ressler spent a lot of time with Aidan when he was in the youth program coming up and coaching him.
2.) Aidan was considered an underdog coming into the match with Allard… How did you feel coming in?
Coach Andrews: At the start of the season, Aidan decided to wrestle 126 and knew that Allard would be at that weight and that he is one of the best in the state. There’s no denying what Adam has been able to do in the sport of wrestling. Aidan wanted to wrestle 126 so he could wrestle Allard in the finals at state. Fans from other teams at tournaments early in the season would say, “that’s too bad he’s at 126, Allard is there.” We would respond, “that’s why Aidan is wrestling at 126, so he can wrestle Allard.” However, Aidan did have an injury during the month of December with his lower back. He was off the mat for about a month during the season and didn’t know what the season would exactly look like for him. During that time Aidan would travel north to Dyersville and meet with Jenny Arnold at Intelligent Movements early in the mornings before school. Jenny saw him and began working with Aidan on strengthening his core with Pilates. As coaches, we knew Aidan would do everything he would have to in order to get back onto the mat and he did. Going into the tournament after the brackets came out and saw where everyone was seeded, we just told Aidan that he needed to take it one match at a time. Focus on the one match in front of him and not to be looking ahead. Personally, we were more nervous about his semifinals match than his finals match. Aidan and Beau had a good finals match from the year before and it would be another hard fought match. Aidan has respect for all the kids he’s wrestled and has developed some relationships with them. For instance, Damon Huston and Aidan have become close over the last two years. They wrestled each other a lot when they were freshman at 106, but now they are at different weights and warmed each other up at the districts and state this past year. Coach Ressler and I didn’t look at any of Allards matches with Aidan until after he was done Friday night. Even though we knew Aidan was watching ALL the matches in his bracket at state, even the consolation side. That’s his routine, he come’s back to the hotel, his mom washes his wrestling gear, he’ll relax in his room and watch matches from state. Since Aidan was relaxed before the finals we were relaxed, we told him to go out wrestle hard and have fun.
3.) How would you describe Aidan’s style? Is his ability to ride and turn guys consistent with Cascade wrestling?
Coach Andrews: Aidan has his own style of wrestling, but his brother also has the ability to ride. Aidan is kind of rewriting the myth that short guys can’t ride with legs. I know Eric Juergens has worked with him on his riding and spent one whole camp just in the top position with the Noonan boys.
4.) How excited are you that Cascade landed its first state champion? How much did it mean to your dad? Is there a possibility we may see your dad coaching in the finals next year?
Coach Andrews: Two years ago, it was really exciting for the Cascade Wrestling fans to have their first state champion. I was more excited for Aidan and what he has been able to accomplish, it’s a testament for all the work he puts in that people don’t see. Having Aidan and Nolan both wrestling in the semifinals together, doing it together that year is a memory they will have the rest of their lives. They’ve been doing it together since day 1. When my brother Tim had his first state champion at Maquoketa Valley, my dad was really excited for Tim and their program. I think it’s safe to say that he was even more excited for Aidan and Cascade Wrestling. It’s something he has wanted for the program since the late 1980’s when he first started coaching at Cascade. The last two years my dad has been right behind the coaches on the mat and that is about as close as I think Aidan will let him get. LOL. Aidan has his routine and it’s something that we haven’t messed with the last two years and are not planning to mess with. We shall see how this season all shakes out and what happen.
5.) Has Aidan’s state championship run sparked some excitement and enthusiasm that may lead to more Cascade kids wanting to join the youth program?
Coach Andrews: The last two years the younger wrestlers in Cascade have become more excited about wrestling. Aidan has broken through the glass ceiling here at Cascade shows that it can be done. He has shown them what hard work is and what it takes. Aidan knows he can always get better and improve, he’s been doing that since all summer, working during the day and wrestling at night. There is a small group of kids that have been going out to their barn to have Aidan work with them this summer. It’s great seeing Aidan walk the halls at the elementary school and all the kids are giving him high fives. I would definitely say his run has sparked some excitement in the Cascade youth program.