Unlike the title character in the movie "Rudy," Cane Bay High School's Matt Rudy is no underdog when it comes to sports.
All-Lowcountry Wrestling Team
Name Year School Weight class
James Sass Jr. Summerville 106
Ben Whitney Jr. Ashley Ridge 113
Matthew Latham Fr. Pinewood Prep 120
Tyler Fachko Sr. Summerville 126
Ivan Wiggins Sr. Military Magnet 132
Josh McDermett Sr. Academic Magnet 138
Daniel Smith Sr. Summerville 145
John Van Slooten Sr. Summerville 152
Chad Wood Sr. Summerville 160
Bernard Harmon Sr. Timberland 170
T.J. Deveaux Jr. Stratford 182
Matt Rudy Jr. Cane Bay 195
Chandler Sambets Sr. Bishop England 220
Clayton Are Sr. Pinewood Prep 285
Jack Grooms, Bishop England; Santarion Frasier, Wando; Lance Lambert, Timberland; Bryan Jackson, Berkeley; Haven Horlback, Hanahan; Zorrie Green, Stall; Allen Moran, Goose Creek; Ben Crutchfield, Wando; Christian Cuttino, Ashley Ridge; A.J. Alford, Fort Dorchester; Christian Rubin, Goose Creek; Jacob Hutchinson, Fort Dorchester; Julian Gibbs, Summerville; Kenny Glover, Ashley Ridge.
Rudy, a junior, is one of the state's top wrestlers, as well as a top-notch football player at the Region 7-AAAA school. He completed an undefeated season in South Carolina with a state Class AAAA wrestling title in the 195-pound weight class, and followed that with a remarkable run in the national high school wrestling championships in Virginia in March.
Rudy defeated four other state champions on his way to the 195-pound national finals before losing by a point to the state champion from New Jersey. Rudy, who finished his 2013-14 season with a 40-1 record, heads The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry wrestling team as the high school wrestler of the year.
Joining Rudy on the first team are Summerville's James Sass, Tyler Fachko, Daniel Smith, John Van Slooten and Chad Wood; Pinewood Prep's Matthew Latham and Clayton Are; Academic Magnet's Ivan Wiggins and Josh McDermett; Ben Whitney of Ashley Ridge; Bernard Harmon of Timberland; T.J. Deveaux of Stratford; and Chandler Sambets of Bishop England.
"It was kind of a dream season really, something I will never forget," said Rudy, who as a starting linebacker for Cane Bay has been the team's leading tackler for the last three seasons. "I had a lot of fun. Winning the state championship was a great feeling and the nationals were a great experience."
Summerville High coach Darryl Tucker is the wrestling coach of the year after guiding the Green Wave to the Lower State AAAA duals title. Summerville lost by three points to Rock Hill in the AAAA state finals. In the state individual tournament, Summerville had five state champions.
Rudy is a workout warrior in the weight room and has a chiseled body to show for it. He squats 465 pounds, bench presses 350 pounds and power cleans 315 pounds. Cane Bay wrestling coach Tim Wash says Rudy has very few weaknesses as an athlete.
"Obviously, he is very strong and very powerful," said Wash. "His work ethic is outstanding. He's the kind of guy that is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. He is constantly learning, constantly asking questions on how he can improve. That's not just wrestling. That's in anything he does. He has a drive to be the best that few kids have at his age. He's a special kid."
Since his impressive performance at nationals, Rudy has seen increased interest from college wrestling programs. Newberry College, Brown University and North Carolina State have been in touch recently.
As a football player, Rudy also is receiving some interest from schools like Charleston Southern, James Madison and Liberty. Rudy has tallied more than 100 tackles in each of his three varsity seasons and already is the school's career tackle leader.
As for his future, Rudy says in a perfect world he would attempt to continue wrestle and play football. However, he does not see that as possible.
"It would be very difficult," he said. "My football coaches would be telling me to gain weight and my wrestling coach would be telling me to cut weight. I don't think I could do both and be as effective as I am in high school.
"It's hard to say which sport I would pick right now. I love them both and I have great passion for both. I guess it would come down to money and which sport would allow me to pay for college. That's the important factor."
Wash says Rudy cannot make a bad decision in terms of his future.
"He will be successful at whatever he decides," the coach said. "Football or wrestling, it doesn't matter because Matt will do what it takes to be great."
For now, Rudy is preparing for a busy summer of wrestling camps and summer football conditioning. He may wrestle in a national tournament at Disney World as well, as part of an all-star gathering.
"It will be busy but I like being busy," said Rudy, who took up throwing the shot put and discus this spring to avoid boredom. "I have one year left of high school. I want to make the most of it."