E.A. Sports Today

Weaver goes back-to-back

Rodgers puts Bearcats over the top, Alexandria second with unlikely champion; ASB’s King named most valuable wrestler

Chase Rodgers (L) and Weaver wrestling coach Andy Fulmer hold the championship trophy for the Gene Taylor Classic. Rodgers' win at 195 clinched the title for the Bearcats.

Chase Rodgers (L) and Weaver wrestling coach Andy Fulmer hold the championship trophy for the Gene Taylor Classic. Rodgers’ win at 195 clinched the title for the Bearcats.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER – When Andy Fulmer first saw Chase Rodgers in his Weaver wrestling program he wasn’t sure this thing was going to work out.

Rodgers was an awkward long-haired seventh grader with a hint of purple in his bangs and the Weaver coach who runs a tight ship had his doubts about being able to get anything productive from him.

But from those uncertain beginnings Rodgers has developed into one of the stalwarts on the back end of the Bearcats’ lineup and Saturday he won the match that clinched the team’s second Gene Taylor Memorial Classic title in a row.

Weaver scored 155 points, followed by Alexandria (147) and first-day leader Tallassee (143). Deshler was a distant fourth (128).

When Rodgers, a senior, took a 5-1 decision from previously unbeaten Tallassee freshman Andy Baker for his third Taylor title in four years it was enough to put the Bearcats over the top.

“I’ve had that joker for six years,” Fulmer said. “I just remember him coming in, goofy, big bangs in his hair, purple highlights in them, and I’m thinking ‘man, what is this kid?’ and he’s just worked so hard to become a presence on the mat where you always feel you’re going to win or have a chance to win a match when he’s out there.

“He loves the sport, he’s passionate, hates to lose. He hates to disappoint and he always wants to do what he can to be a team player, so if that’s what clinched it, it’s kind of cool for him to be that guy seeing this is his last Gene Taylor of his career.”

Ryan King, the 152-pound champion from Alabama School for the Blind, was voted Most Valuable Wrestler of the tournament and the heavyweight final between Jake Baker of Tallassee and Caleb Allison of Weaver was voted the best match.

Weaver produced only two champions – Nick Souder (120) and Rodgers (195) – but the Bearcats had six wrestlers in championship bouts including each of the final four weight classes.

Rodgers said the title clincher wasn’t one of his best matches and he still needs to work harder. It’s something he’s looking forward to because that’s what got him where he is today.

“It was all my coaches, they pushed me,” he said. “If I wrestled anywhere else I’d probably still be that punky kid, I really would. They put me through every day of hard practice, pushed me farther, yelling at me, because they know I’m better than I am.”

Runner-up Alexandria produced three champions, but none more unlikely than Kaleb Mathews at 113. Mathews is an eighth-grade B-teamer inserted in the lineup for injured Lane Trapp and all he did was score four pins and take down each of the top three seeds in the division in his final three matches.

“It made me really excited,” Mathews said. “I really didn’t expect to win, but I came through with all the wins and everything and it made me happy.”

He handed top-seed Cameron Zell of Cedartown his first loss in the final.

“It was a pretty tough match,” Mathews said. “At first I didn’t have any confidence in myself, but after a little bit I thought, ‘Hey, you need to believe in yourself. You need to win this’ and I pushed through and won it.”

The Valley Cubs’ other champions were Jimmy Wilson (106) and Christian Knop (170).

Had more coaches been aware of Mathews’ circumstances he might have been voted MVW, but the award went to King, who remained undefeated with three pins and 8-1 decision over Elmore County’s Tracy Strouse in the final.

“I really did think someone else was going to get it until they started pointing at me from the stage,” said King, a Gadsden native who suffers a condition called congenital nystagmus. “I didn’t know if he’s pointing at me or not, then I heard ‘152 pounds,’ then I heard ‘Ryan King,’ and I was like, ‘OK, OK.’

“It means a lot to me, since this is my last year of wrestling this award is really going to stick with me a long time knowing I earned this my last year wrestling, so every time I look at it I’ll remember my wonderful (six) years as a wrestler. It’s awesome.”

ASB's Ryan King, the 152 champion, was voted most valuable wrestler for the Gene Taylor Classic.

ASB’s Ryan King, the 152 champion, was voted most valuable wrestler for the Gene Taylor Classic.

Alexandria eighth-grade B-teamer Kaleb Mathews was an unexpected champion at 113.

Alexandria eighth-grade B-teamer Kaleb Mathews was an unexpected champion at 113.


Team scores: Weaver 155, Alexandria 147, Tallassee 143, Deshler 128, Madison County 125, Cleburne County 121, Susan Moore 89, Prattville Christian 76, Leeds 74, Ohatchee 73, Ashville 61, Saks 60, Elmore County 54, Cedartown (Ga.) 51, Ranburne 49, ASB 41.

106 Results
Championship Match: Jimmy Wilson (Alexandria) 9-0, Fr. pinned Zack Haynes (Tallassee) 10-1, 8th. (1:18).
Consolation Match: Reed Hill (Ohatchee) 5-1, 8th def. Seth Ingram (Susan Moore) 9-3, Jr. (Dec 1-0).

113 Results
Championship Match: Kaleb Mathews (Alexandria) 4-0, 8th pinned Cameron Zell (Cedartown) 10-1, So. (2:56).
Consolation Match: Mekhi Burdette (Madison County) 4-1, 8th, def. Bailey Henry (Ranburne) 10-5, Fr. (Dec 6-5).

120 Results
Championship Match: Nick Souder (Weaver) 14-1, Jr. def. Fletcher Swindall (Alexandria) 13-1, Fr. (Dec 9-4).
Consolation Match: Kage Robertson (Susan Moore) 9-2, So. pinned Jacob van Northington (Prattville Christian Academy) 10-2, Jr. (2:24).

126 Results
Championship Match: Jordan Price (Tallassee) 11-0, Jr. pinned Paul Robertson (Susan Moore) 10-1, Sr. (4:32).
Consolation Match: Preston Jarrell (Cleburne County) 6-3, So. pinned Matthew Schmaltz (Alexandria) 11-4, So. (1:30).

132 Results
Championship Match: Channing Marmann (Deshler) 5-0, Fr. def. Zach Williamson (Cleburne County) 5-3, 8th. (Dec 9-3).
Consolation Match: Aaron Whittaker (Alexandria) 11-5, So. def. Drake Monroe (Weaver) 12-4, Fr. (Dec 8-2).

138 Results
Championship Match: Dawson Anderson (Leeds) 4-0, Jr. pinned Andrew Kilgore (Saks) 7-1, Jr. (5:06).
Consolation Match: Andrew Campbell (Deshler) 5-1, Sr. def. Reid Deason (Prattville Christian Academy) 7-6, Sr. (Dec 3-0).

145 Results
Championship Match: Tyler Williams (Deshler) 5-1, Sr. def. Kyle Clapper (Weaver) 13-2, Jr. (Dec 5-2).
Consolation Match: Stephen White (Madison County) 5-1, Fr. pinned Jude Graziono (Ohatchee) 3-2, So. (4:06).

152 Results
Championship Match: Ryan King (Alabama School for the Blind) 14-0, Jr. def. Tracy Strouse (Elmore County) 9-3, Jr. (Dec 8-1).
Consolation Match: Rio Reyes (Tallassee) 11-3, Fr. def. Dalton Bowman (Cedartown) 8-4, Fr. (Dec 13-10).

160 Results
Championship Match: Seth Shelton (Madison County) 3-0, Jr. def. Will White (Leeds) 3-1, Sr. (Dec 4-1).
Consolation Match: Kenny Brady (Ashville) 9-1, Sr. def. Hayden Pitts (Ohatchee) 3-2, Jr. (Dec 1-0).

170 Results
Championship Match: Christian Knop (Alexandria) 14-0, Fr. pinned Noah Beam (Cleburne County) 2-1, Sr. (3:53).
Consolation Match: Andy Morgan (Ashville) 6-3, Sr. def. Samual Bramlett (Madison County) 4-2, Jr. (Dec 4-2).

182 Results
Championship Match: Alex Nickell (Leeds) 4-0, Sr. def. Collin Allison (Weaver) 13-1, Sr. (Dec 7-0).
Consolation Match: Jeremy Noah (Tallassee) 10-4, Jr. def. Sam Pate (Cleburne County) 7-3, Jr. (SV-1 3-1).

195 Results
Championship Match: Chase Rodgers (Weaver) 12-1, Sr. def. Andy Baker (Tallassee) 12-1, Fr. (Dec 5-1).
Consolation Match: Clent Mcleary (Deshler) 6-1, Sr. pinned Julian Calderon (Susan Moore) 8-4, So. (1:43).

220 Results
Championship Match: Colton Parton (Madison County) 3-0, Sr. pinned Matt Elston (Weaver) 2-1, Jr. (3:17).
Consolation Match: Caleb Montgomery (Ohatchee) 4-1, Jr. def. Travis Bell (Cleburne County) 6-5, Sr. (Dec 12-6).

285 Results
Championship Match: Jake Baker (Tallassee) 9-2, Jr. def. Caleb Allison (Weaver) 13-1, Fr. (Dec 3-2).
Consolation Match: Spencer Killough (Deshler) 6-1, Sr. pinned Anthony Johnson (Madison County) 3-2, Sr. (3:19).

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