Junior Abbi Cooper continues to create wrestling history at Clayton Valley Charter

Junior Abbi Cooper continues to create wrestling history at Clayton Valley Charter

Junior Abbi Cooper continues to create wrestling history at Clayton Valley Charter
Junior Abbi Cooper has won three consecutive Diablo Athletic League and North Coast Section wrestling championships for Clayton Valley Charter and last month capped her season with a seventh-place finish at the CIF State Meet. (Dean Esquibel photo courtesy Clayton Valley Charter Athletics)

CONCORD, CA (Mar. 14, 2024) — Abbi Cooper has become an immediately recognizable name among Clayton Valley students and staff after her extraordinary achievements on the girls wrestling team. She has made history in many aspects of her craft, however even now, she continues to outdo herself.

In just her third year of wrestling, Cooper has officially become a nationally ranked wrestler, placed 13th in her weight division last November. Her accomplishment is all the more impressive considering that she has achieved this with less than three years of participating on the wrestling team.

Her amount of experience has never seemed to affect her stats or her character. Cooper has been described as “persevering” and “fearless” when it comes to her competition, all powered by her love for the sport.

Cooper says she took part in a kid’s wrestling day at Clayton Valley when she was in sixth grade at Diablo View Middle School. When she expressed interest in the sport her mom told her she could not wrestle until high school and so she waited until then to go out for the wrestling team and made varsity.

Strong sense of leadership

Micheal Clemmensen, one of Cooper’s Ugly Eagles wrestling coaches since her freshman year, describes her as the “hardest worker, with not only talent, but a strong sense of leadership,” an important trait for someone with such a gift. He also said, “[Abbi] is willing to take on any challenge, even those that are above her” and that she is “willing to wrestle anyone.”

Cooper has attained multiple championships both for her high school and CYC club team, spanning from local to state to national settings. In 2022, she went undefeated in all her matches in the Junior National Team Duals, and she has earned gold medals in tournaments such as the California Greco-Roman State Championships, as well as four more in beach wrestling. Nevertheless, she makes sure to stay humble and appreciative of those around her.

Her coaches play big role

“My coach Gonzo [girls coach at CVCHS Christopher Gonzalez] has coached me throughout the offseason and doesn’t really have a break, but whenever I need him to train me, he always will come over and help no matter what,” said Cooper, when asked who has helped her throughout this journey.

All through her short wrestling career, she has consistently dominated no matter the place, time or circumstance. Cooper even faced a broken hand during practice that kept her out of action until mid-January this year. However, she did not let it defeat her.

This resolution is a clear reflection of the athlete she is, and the reason for her success. Her response to challenges are truly inspiring, and all seem to be something that she can just bounce back from naturally.

“[Abbi] has continued to fight back as hard as she can, and she was even determined enough to continue working out even when she was injured,” added Clemmensen, when talking about what makes her different from other athletes.

Supportive team

Abbi Cooper.

It is clear that determination, steadfastness and an overall personality to continue to persevere, while surrounding herself with a supportive team, have helped Cooper to reach where she has gotten today. Her sheer talent is also something to be recognized and applauded. Not only is her hard work incredibly admirable, but her humility and dedication are what makes her stand out to not only her peers at Clayton Valley Charter.

After getting back on the mat following her hand healing Cooper won her third straight Diablo Athletic League and North Coast Section championships. She was joined by CVCHS teammates Savanna Talmadge, Alondra Hernandez and Isabel Leyva as DAL champs this winter.

Head wrestling coach Kyle Behmlander says Cooper’s threepeats in league and section wrestling has been done only one other time at the Concord school with such a rich wrestling history. Doug Balough in the late sixties won three DVAL and NCS titles.

Legendary coach Bill Smith and wrestlers such as Pete Laurence, Balough, Tom Hook, Warren Turnage, Bruce Kopitar and Brian Strock won state team and individual titles. In recent times, Troy Lakin with a fifth in 2012 State was the most successful Ugly Eagles wrestler.

Female wrestling chapter

Up till now, all the names in the CV wrestling annals are male, but Cooper is starting to write the female wrestling chapter at the Concord school.

At the recent CIF State Meet, Behmlander says Cooper won her “blood match” to get into medal contention and eventually prevailed in the seventh-place match, defeating a wrestler who had beat her a year ago at state. She finished with a 4-2 mark at State in 110 pound bracket.

With high school season concluded, Cooper is back at the Community Youth Center in Concord preparing for freestyle and Greco Roman tournaments around the country in the coming months including regional, junior national and national tournaments. Her coaches at CYC are American Olympian Robby Smith, who mentors her Greco style, and Steve Gee.

Pioneer sports editor Jay Bedecarré ­contributed to this story.