Pushing his way through a pair of daily wrestling practices is just one way that Thompson High junior Jacob McPhearson chooses to challenge himself. In fact, the 6 a.m. wrestling workouts and three-hour practices following school might not be the hardest part of his day.
McPhearson’s workload in school includes four AP classes and a pre-calculus dual enrollment course, which gives him college credit. He not only pushes himself in the classroom but he excels. McPhearson has made straight A’s since his first day at Thompson High. His last B, McPhearson said, came in an eighth grade English class.
“Pushing myself in school, just makes me happy,” said McPhearson, whose future plans include something in the medical field. “I don’t find a B acceptable, which is weird for most high school students. I would be really upset with myself if I got a B. Getting that scholarship is high up for me.”
Conventional wisdom suggests that taking wrestling out of the mix would be helpful, especially when it comes to time management of a difficult academic workload. However, McPhearson paints a different picture.
“I think (wrestling) helps me greatly,” McPhearson said. “Without wrestling, I probably wouldn’t push myself as hard in school. Determination of staying in (the wrestling room) every day, keeps me thinking that if I stay determined like this in school, also, it will benefit me later in life. It just helps me to think ahead.”
McPhearson, who wrestles at 170 pounds, is a starter in one of the top programs in the state. The Warriors are in the middle of competing for the chance to win the AHSAA State Dual Championships. They opened the Class 7A competition with a 59-12 victory over Auburn. Thompson now travels Central Phenix City for a semifinal match, with action scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The winner of that match will advance to the state championship match on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
That is just part of one what has been a challenging season for the McPhearson and his teammates. McPhearson has battled his way to a 14-29 record against some of the top wrestlers in the state and across the country. He finished 20th in the prestigious Cheesehead Invitational in Wisconsin in December and placed 14th in the 2018 Southeastern Pools Invitational hosted by Thompson earlier this month.
For McPhearson, however, the benefits he gets from wrestling aren’t necessarily recorded by a win-loss record.
“I use wrestling to push my academics,” McPhearson said. “If I made bad grades, I wouldn’t be able to wrestle. And, I like to be considered one of the smarter ones on the team. That makes me feel good.”