BEDFORD, N.Y. – Harrison Cook came into his senior year on the wrestling mat for the University of Pennsylvania prepared to make up for lost time.
The Fox Lane alumnus missed his junior year because of an injury, one of many that have hampered Cook throughout his high school and college careers.
“I have come back to the mat hungry to make an impact on the national level,” said Cook, a 2008 Section 1 Division I champion.
Cook is sharing time in the 174-pound weight class. Recently, he won his 197-pound match in Penn’s victory over Hofstra.
Cook was sidelined last year because of a bulging disk in his neck. This came on the heels of a recurring elbow injury, which led to surgery and forced him to cut short his sophomore season.
“Injuries have been a part of my career, which doesn’t make it any easier,” said Cook, who is majoring in philosophy, political science and economics. “I am often haunted by the thought of how good I could be if I hadn’t spent so much time injured. But I guess you do a better job at recovering.”
Cook spent the year in Westchester, working at Max Askren’s wrestling club with many Section 1 wrestlers. He also helped Askren prepare for the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials.
“Working with the Section 1 wrestlers made me observe the mistakes they made, and it helped me identify the mistakes I made,” Cook said. “It has helped me to become a much more technical wrestler.”
Cook said the neck injury still bothers him but he has blocked out the pain and focused on regaining a starting spot. He said that if it is not at 174, he would bump up and wrestle in the 184-pound weight class.
“I knew the injury would take time to come back from, but I feel confident I am making the adjustments necessary to accomplish my goals,” Cook said. “I feel that I am getting better with every practice and I am certainly competing better in every match.”