Remember The Wrestler: Terry Cook; Spencer HS ‘84/University Of Nebraska
Terry Cook is one of the all-time Iowa HS greats as far as I’m concerned. Some of you may have read the PinDox Profile article I published on him a few weeks ago…A lot of this intro will consist of cliff-notes from that.
Terry Cook had one of the most head-scratching, not to mention, borderline tragic Iowa HS wrestling careers that I’ve ever come across. And even with that being said, it was still a GREAT career that most wrestlers could only dream of putting together. He accomplished a lot of great things and did so while never being on the receiving side of catching a break. He was a 3X placer/2X runner-up who placed 2nd, 3rd and 2nd in that order. Now, since there are 4 years in HS, I am guessing that most of you are going to assume that those placings BEGIN his Sophomore year, but they don’t. They begin his Freshman year. He placed 2nd as a Freshman, 3rd as a Sophomore, 2nd as a Junior and…did not qualify as a Senior in 1984. This was because he got injured right before districts his Senior year and couldn’t compete. And get this stat… In Terry Cook’s entire HS wrestling career, he didn’t have one single regular season loss. NOT ONE. The only losses he ever took came at the state tournament…And he never lost more than one match per year at state… Isn’t that incredible?!
Terry had some great moments in the off-season/Freestyle scene as well. Most notably, he won the Fort Madison Tri-State Freestyle Tournament, which was a qualifier for Nationals and he defeated phenom, Steve Knight from Clinton HS to do it. Terry was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament…a tournament that included the likes of Mark Schwab, Mark Sindlinger, Terry Schmuecker, Royce Alger, Tim Krieger, Kirk Azinger, etc. just to name a few.
Terry went on to wrestle for the University of Nebraska where he was a letter-winner and put together a very respectable collegiate career. While there, everything I come across seems to indicate that he continued to fight the injury bug.
Terry Cook… he’s one of the all-time greats! Here is what he had to say about his wrestling journey!
PINDOX: What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
-Spencer YMCA, Little Joe’s Wrestling Club (Omaha, NE), Spencer High School, University of Nebraska.
PINDOX: What year did you graduate?
-Spencer High School 1984, University of Nebraska 1990.
PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
-Growing up watching my two older Brother’s wrestle.
PINDOX: Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
-Both Brothers were Lake Conference Champions with a lot of talent and drive. Both of my Nephews, Josh and Ryan Pratt were State qualifiers and State place winners.
PINDOX: What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
-When I was wrestling in my youth I won most of the tournaments that I wrestled in. I won the Tulsa Nationals in the late 70’s which was the granddaddy of all tournaments back then! In those days you had 16 to 32 man brackets so it was much harder to win, compared to most tournaments today that are 4 man brackets.
PINDOX: What was your record in HS?
-I went 99-3-1… The 2 losses were at state and 1 was an injury default my Senior year I tried to wrestle in districts but ended up hospitalized. I also had 3 forfeits that were not counted for my career record. So my career record should be 102-3-1.
I’m not counting my finals loss to Jeff Gibbons as a loss to this day.
PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?
-2nd, 3rd, 2nd… The year I placed third, the opponent I beat in Districts was on the other side of the bracket and placed 2nd.
PINDOX: What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
-Junior year in high school state finals vs. Jeff Gibbons of Ames… The official made the wrong call and I actually won that match and it was taken from me. This motivated me even more to come back and win it my Senior year.
My Senior year I was undefeated and was injured two days before districts, I tried wrestling but ended up in the hospital, this motivated me to wrestle at Nebraska to try to win a National title.
My Junior year at Nebraska I was ranked 4th in the Country, broke my thumb, had two pins put in it, cut the cast off and still made it to the National tournament.
My Senior year at Nebraska, I was ranked in the top 5 of the country and at Christmas time I was told by my Doctor to stop wrestling because of a ruptured disc in my neck. I still tried wrestling in the National tournament and because it was so difficult, I made it to the round of 12.
PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?
-Very aggressive with the intent to never give up or quit.
PINDOX: There was obviously a great deal of controversy in your Junior year state finals match vs. Jeff Gibbons your senior year. Decades later, does that match still bother you as much as it did back then?
-Yes and No. Yes, because I know in my heart that I was a State champion. No, because I realize it was just a small chapter in my life and it doesn’t define who I am today.
PINDOX: How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
-There really wasn’t any because I only lost a couple times total.
PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?
-Mark Cody because he was such a positive and uplifting motivation to all of us at Nebraska and Coach Neuman because he brought so much energy to the wrestling room.
PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?
-My Senior year in HS we were ranked #1 in the state of Iowa. The year before I came in at Nebraska they finished 4th in Country. We kept that legacy going from there.
PINDOX: Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
-Jeff Kerber from Emmetsburg, Iowa. I would travel there to workout at his house with the Ehawks. He was the 2nd guy to be a four time State champion and he was the first to be undefeated in doing so.
PINDOX: Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
-That’s a loaded question but I’d have to say Jeff Kerber. He set the bar. He’s undefeated and dominated everyone he wrestled in High School.
PINDOX: Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?
-In High School I would compare myself to the Brands boys like they were in College. When I was in College I would compare my style to Jeff Kerber because of his technical style but not near as dominant.
PINDOX: What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?
-I would’ve loved to have seen Randy Lewis wrestle Thomas Gillman since they have Gillman ranked ahead of Lewis as “All time greats.” I’m not sure Gillman would like that match as much as people may think! Another would be Andre Metzger and Lincoln Mcllravy. Grab your popcorn!
PINDOX: Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?
-Tim Krieger, Joe Gibbons, Timothy Klinghammer.
PINDOX: Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
-Jordan Burroughs, David Carr, Spencer Lee
PINDOX: What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
PINDOX: What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
-State finals my Junior year.
PINDOX: If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
-If I was much more healthy, the titles would’ve came.
PINDOX: What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
-When I won the Tulsa Nationals because I’ve never seen my Father so proud.
PINDOX: Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
-None really stood out to me in that way. I respected all of my competitors.
PINDOX: Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
All year round.
PINDOX: How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
-As Michael Jordan would say “It’s hard to compare eras.” I feel very confident that the guys back in the ‘80’s would be able to compete with guys today.
PINDOX: Did you wrestle after high school?
-Yes, University of Nebraska
PINDOX: What other sports did you play?
PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?
PINDOX: What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Golfing and hiking.
PINDOX: How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
-It was a big part of my life when I got done competing. I helped a couple wrestlers win a couple State titles. I helped the University of Iowa raise roughly a quarter of a million dollars in the last 12 years for the Hawkeye wrestling club. I helped the Iowa State wrestling club raise money for the CRTC.
PINDOX: How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
-Astronomically-life is so much like wrestling. There’s so many highs and lows and every day you have to prepare yourself for the day, prepare yourself to win. Some days you win and some days you lose. No matter how many times you get knocked down you’ve got to get back up because each day is a gift.
PINDOX: What do you do now?
-At the age of 25 I set goals for my life instead of wrestling. I wanted to be a millionaire at the age of 40 and retire at the age of 50. I achieved both goals and am retired now and enjoy competing at the game of golf.
PINDOX: Are you still involved with wrestling?
-I help raise money for both the Iowa and Iowa State wrestling programs.
PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
-Set goals, be disciplined and don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach your goals because it will not define who you may become.
PINDOX: Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
-Zero chance-my body is too beat up!
PINDOX: Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
-I don’t want to single anyone out-I feel that everyone I came in contact with in the sport of wrestling whether it was a teammate, opponent or coach they all made a significant impact on my life in some way.
PINDOX: Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
I wish I could but it isn’t PG rated…lol