Diminutive Cooper Chapman started wrestling as a 78-pound seventh grader
If Cooper Chapman suddenly experiences a growth spurt during his senior year at Highland Park, it could hamper his hopes of winning a state wrestling title.
Chapman has represented the Scots at the Class 5A state tournament in each of the last two years at 106 pounds, the lightest of the 14 varsity weight classes.
As a senior, he should hold an experience advantage because many wrestlers who start at 106 pounds grow into a heavier weight class. Chapman, however, is happy to stand pat in a sport where a few pounds can mean everything.
As a sophomore, Chapman was happy just getting to state. Last year, he was disappointed after gaining a lead in both of his matches before eventually losing.
“I know what I need to change,” Chapman said. “Some people have never been before and don’t have the same experience.”
Chapman dabbled in other sports as a youngster but didn’t try wrestling until a cousin asked him to come to practice. Suddenly, the 78-pound seventh grader found his passion. While wrestling might commonly be associated with size and strength, Chapman relies primarily on speed and technique.
“He’s really good about constant motion,” said HP head coach Tim Marzuola. “He’s a super-hard worker.”
Indeed, Chapman trains with his club team two to three nights per week after finishing up practice at school. Earlier this year, he won his bracket at the Lonestar Nationals tournament in North Richland Hills. In October, he placed in the top 10 at the Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa.
He’s really good about constant motion.Tim Marzuola
Chapman flourished last season for HP, pinning all but two of his opponents during the regular season in under a minute. Many opponents forfeit at 106 because they don’t have anyone to fill the spot.
“It’s harder during the season because the opponents are less challenging,” Chapman said.
That’s why Marzuola intends to have him wrestle against heavier foes early this year whenever possible.
“He expects a lot of himself, and we expect him to do well,” Marzuola said.
“We want to get him as many tough matches this year as possible to get him tournament-ready.”
After graduating next spring, Chapman hopes to continue wrestling in college. The lowest weight class at that level is 125 pounds.