Timberland High School senior Cooper Youngblood has dedicated himself to a pursuit of excellence, both in the classroom and on the field of play.
Youngblood, one of the top three academic performers at Timberland, is a state wrestling champion for the Wolves and takes a slew of advanced placement classes at the St. Stephen school.
“I think overall he’s a perfectionist,” THS wrestling coach Ryan Rhoades said. “He’s kind of got that alpha personality. He wants to do everything he possibly can to do his best. You can say the same things about his classes at school too.”
Youngblood has been accepted to The Citadel and plans to wrestle for the Bulldogs.
“He will work hard to get to where he needs to be,” Rhoades said.
This past winter, Youngblood broke through to win a state wrestling championship at 182 pounds in Class AAA, ending a pursuit that began after watching former THS standout Bernard Harmon win his second one in 2014. Youngblood became the first Wolves wrestler to climb atop the podium since Harmon.
“He decided to make that one of his goals and now he can cross it off,” Rhoades said. “It’s something he wanted to achieve.”
Youngblood had appeared on the big stage twice before, finishing third at 182 pounds last winter and outside the top four in 2016.
This season was his last opportunity to capture what he wanted.
Youngblood pinned opponents from Chapman and Lake City to punch his ticket to the championship match, then knocked off Aynor’s Drake Carroll 11-7 in overtime to reel in the gold. There was a struggle in the final, adding to the satisfaction of finishing No. 1.
"Cooper wrestled his butt off," Rhoades said. "He was down 6-1 in the third period and had to rally. Cooper threw the kid to his back and scored four points. Cooper couldn't turn him so he let him up. He was down 7-5. With only 10 to 15 seconds left, Cooper took him down again to tie it 7-7 and force overtime. In OT, Cooper countered the Aynor kid's leg attack and tossed him to win in the first minute of overtime. It was an incredible rally."
Youngblood finished his Timberland career with a 108-23 record and was a North-South All-Star Wrestling Classic participant.
"Wrestling has instilled two things in me, to have a sense of class and most of all be a man of God," Youngblood said. "He has given me coaches that are there for me: Coach Addison, a big brother; Coach Bauer, an emotional support; and Coach Rhoades, the technique trainer. I still would have never succeeded if it wasn't for my father. My father was there every minute fighting by my side. My heart came from him. No matter how hard it was or how far down in a match I was, the heart he has instilled in me is a heart of determination."
Youngblood also played baseball this spring for Timberland.