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The quest for four: Lewistown's Cooper Birdwell chases history

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 11:27:56-05

HAVRE — Lewistown's Cooper Birdwell doesn’t lose very many wrestling matches. In fact, he’s never lost in high school.

After a pair of wins in Havre last weekend, Birdwell improved to 30-0 on the season as he continues his quest to join the elite list of four-time individual state champions in the Treasure State. If the 132-pound senior could accomplish the feat, he would become No. 37.

"It would mean a lot to me," Birdwell said. "And I know it would mean a lot to my coaches and my little guy coaches and my parents and my family, because they put so much time and effort and money into me, and they've sent me everywhere."

He draws inspiration from previous four-timers, but his hard work has given him a chance at something extra: an undefeated high school record, something that’s only happened three times prior in Montana.

"I've looked up the studs like (Belgrade's) Jarrett Degen and (Havre's) Parker Filius. I watch some college guys and try to imitate their style and just kind of do my own thing," Birdwell said. "It's just a constant grind, whether you're just doing down and backs or you're focusing on small technique, going really slow in practice, making sure you perfect everything."

Birdwell’s work ethic is matched by his intelligence. His coaches laud is high GPA and ACT scores, acknowledging the smarts he brings to the mat.

"The stuff and technique that we can go over and talk about is just on another level versus most high school kids," Lewistown head coach Brendon DeCock said. "So it's a blast to coach him. He's always very inquisitive. He's always asking questions, wanting to better himself, looking at film, that kind of stuff. So a pretty amazing kid."

That combo of grades and skills garnered interest from numerous NCAA Division I schools, including Missouri, Oregon State and Wyoming. But Birdwell picked the biggest one of all, Oklahoma State. With 34 national team titles and 142 individual champions, the Cowboys have the most storied and successful DI wrestling program in the country.

"It was exciting to finally pick a school and kind of roll with it," Birdwell said. "They have a phenomenal program, really good coaches, and I just felt right I guess."

Before heading to Stillwater, Birdwell’s focused on the State A wrestling tournament in Miles City on March 5 and 6.