E.A. Sports Today

Rodgers gets his prize

Weaver senior remembers the way it felt to finish second last year and was driven not to have that happen against this year

Weaver senior Chase Rodgers accepts a copy of the Class 1A-5A 195-pound bracket he won from AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese.

Weaver senior Chase Rodgers accepts a copy of the Class 1A-5A 195-pound bracket he won from AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE – Chase Rodgers remembered how awful it felt last year when he came up one match short of winning the state championship and watched the wrestler who denied him hold the bracket high on the podium. He didn’t want to feel that way again.

The Weaver senior had been carrying that weight all season, but Saturday awful turned into awesome after a tense 1-0 victory over Tallassee freshman Andy Baker gave him the Class 1A-5A 195-pound title that eluded him a year ago.

“This is amazing; best thing I’ve ever felt in my life,” he said shortly after doing a small victory lap around the mat. “Last year drove me harder. Losing is like being buried alive, the other one is like skydiving.”

Rodgers was on track to win the title last year but got stopped short of his goal by a 9-3 loss to Christian Lane Burtram of St. Clair County. It was a pain he couldn’t – and didn’t want to – shake.

“He took the loss really hard and wanted to go out a winner,” Weaver coach Andy Fulmer said. “He’s a winner either way, but he wanted to go out winning his last match. He’s been telling me all year he’s going to get back and he’ll win.”

Rodgers scored the only point in his match on an escape with about 20 seconds left in the second period after Baker, the No. 5 qualifier from the South super sectional, got him off his feet.

Even from that precarious position he was trying to figure out his next move. Finally, he got his arm loose, got behind his opponent and got away.

“I was just remembering drills, muscle memory; we do it every day,” he said. “It’s made for these moments.”

Rodgers was one of two state champions wearing Weaver singlets Saturday; Nick Souder won his second state title, this time at 113. In fact, all three Weaver seniors who made it to Saturday won medals and won the final matches of their high school careers.

Tyler Johnson scored a dramatic decision over Helena’s Nathan Dunaway for fifth place in 170 and Collin Allison pinned Madison County’s Brenen Gibbs in 2:05 to finish fifth in 182. Johnson scored two points to tie the match right before time expired in the third period and then won in overtime.

Rodgers, Allison and senior teammate Brannon Bellar are lined up to go into the Marine Corps together about a month after they finish school.

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