E.A. Sports Today

Souder signs

Three-time state champion Nick Souder signs scholarship with Williams Baptist, giving Weaver coach Andy Fulmer his first college wrestler

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER — Out of program that has produced so many team titles and individual state champions over the years, Nick Souder made a little Weaver history Friday.

The Bearcats’ three-time state champion became coach Andy Fulmer’s first wrestler to sign a college scholarship – and one of the rare signees from the school — when he made it official to Williams Baptist College, a growing NAIA power in northeast Arkansas.

The Bearcats have produced wrestlers capable of competing on the next level, none more decorated than six-time state champion Michael Sutton (1999-2004) and five-time champion Jeremiah Wells (1992-96), but life intervened.

Sutton chose a different career path. Wells had a scholarship, but returned home before the season started. Harry West, another 200-match winner in the early 90s, had a full scholarship to Kemper Junior College and Tarus Nelson had one to a school in California.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Souder said. “For Sutton not to go and then me to go to college and him having six titles and me having only three I’d say that’s pretty good. There’s been a lot of great wrestlers come through Weaver. Just knowing they didn’t go and had more titles than me, it’s just overwhelming.”

The Eagles appealed to Souder as a program on the rise. In just its third year in existence, the team finished fourth in this year’s NAIA national tournament (three points out of third), had an individual champion and three All-Americans.

“It’s really nice it’s starting off and I’m getting to move from a program we kind of built up and I get to go to another program that’s trying to do that,” he said.

He’s got the chance to be a builder. Souder lost only one match each of the last three years, but each of those setbacks drove him to the success that followed. He won state titles the last three years at 106, 113 and 126 with a combined record of 194-3.

His overall Weaver record was 311-47. Amazingly, he wrestled his seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade years with the varsity 30, 20 and 10 pounds underweight in his division.

“He’s one of the best I’ve ever coached,” Bearcats coach Andy Fulmer said. “He’s been a solid wrestler, a solid competitor for me for six years, even when he weighed 70-something pounds wrestling 103.

“When he takes the mat you always feel like you have a chance to not only win, but you have a chance to earn bonus points because he’s either going to pin or tech or get a major decision because, no matter of all the individual accomplishments, he’s always been a team-first guy. That’s what makes him special.”

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