Finding his own way

Brenda Hess | Itemizer-Observer Cooper Hise attempts to pin his opponent during a wrestling match this season.

DALLAS — When Cooper Hise walks onto the wrestling mat, the rest of the Dallas High School wrestling team yells out “Coooop” in long, low tones as a show of support for their teammate.

They know the kind of athlete he is. His opponents do too.

But for awhile, Hise wasn’t regarded as a competitor.

“In the old days before he was kind of known, you’d see his opponents walking out with this air of confidence,” said head coach Tony Olliff, “but that’s gone now. People kind of know he’s pretty formidable, and so now he’s got respect.”

Standing at five-feet-two-inches, and wrestling in the 195-pound weight bracket, Hise often finds himself wrestling much taller opponents. Because of that, he’s developed a unique wrestling style that catches the eye of the spectators, and it’s the reason he is a well-known wrestler, Olliff said.

“When there’s a big tournament and he steps on the mat, usually just most people in the stands are watching him because he’s unique, he’s a bit of an anomaly,” Olliff said.

He even catches his coaches off guard.

“This guy is the most underestimated guy in the state of Oregon,” said assistant coach Walt Markee. “He surprises everybody, even his coaches. He’s awesome.”

Hise shrugged when asked about his grappling style.

“I just throw people,” he said with a grin.

This season, Hise’s win-loss record is 22-25. With the 5A Mid-Willamette Conference Wrestling District Tournament just around the corner, he has one goal in mind: “State. I want to go to state.”

He missed his slot last season, and his desire to go this year has been fueling him all season long.

“(State) has been on my mind ever since last year,” he said.

He’s hungry for a shot, and it’s evidenced in how hard he works.

“What people don’t know about him is he wrestles from October to August,” Olliff said, “so he puts as much time on the mat as any Division 1 wrestler, just making sure he can get the most out of his athletic ability.”

Hise said he has surprised even himself this season with his improvement from last year. His favorite match this season was against Pendleton at the Liberty Invitational in December.

“I had not been doing that great at the tournament, and then I won that match, so that helped my self esteem,” he said.

Hise might be a quiet competitor but actions often speak louder than words and in Hise’s case, he lets his actions say everything.

His older brother was the same way, Olliff said. “They follow the same mold: they do everything we ask, one thousand percent, as hard as they can, and they come up with their own way to win.”

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