You could call Cooper Gallagher the Cape-Atlantic League's most avoided wrestler.

The unbeaten Ocean City High School senior has dealt with his fair share of frustrations this season, despite winning every single one of his matches.

Gallagher loves wrestling but has become a victim of his own success.

The 18-year-old Ocean City resident is a bonus point machine so opposing coaches have been doing their best to avoid him by bumping wrestlers away.

Gallagher is a perfect 19-0 this season with nine pins at 182 pounds.

He also has a CAL-leading seven forfeits.

"That's the most frustrating thing in the entire world," Gallagher said of the forfeits. "I practice all week, work as hard as I can, and then get ready before my match and I go out there and don't even wrestle.

"It (stinks). It gets worse every time. I see kids they have (at weigh-ins), not even one but multiple kids at my weight, and then they forfeit. It's frustrating."

Gallagher said he would rather wrestle and lose than win by forfeit.

"Wrestling is what I want to do," Gallagher said. "I don't want to not even go out on the mat."

Ocean City coach Dave Castellini said the pre-match coin toss is key in determining whether or not Gallagher will wrestle in a match. Opposing teams are able to dictate matchups and keep wrestlers away from Gallagher when winning the toss.

"There's not much you can do," Castellini said. "Sometimes you lose the toss in and you just try to do what you can and hope he gets some matches."

Gallagher is a two-year captain and a big reason why the Red Raiders are 11-3 this season.

"He's a natural leader," Castellini said. "I think his work ethic in the practice room directly impacts the other wrestlers and elevates theirlevel as well."

Gallagher is working to qualify for the State Individual Championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the first time.

Gallagher's junior season came to an unceremonious end after he suffered a strained right oblique in the semifinals of the District 32 tournament.

He went on to take second in the district and actually won his Region 8 preliminary match, but the pain forced him to withdraw prior to the quarterfinals, ending his season.

"He came back stronger and ready to go," Castellini said. "He's working harder than ever."

Gallagher won't have to worry about forfeits once districts start, and he's setting his sights higher than ever.

"I want to win the state tournament," Gallagher said. "I'm really looking forward to getting my district title. I want to win the Region 8 tournament and then if not win, definitely medal in the state tournament.

"I'm working hard. I'm just hoping it all pays off."

Contact John O’Kane:


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