When Matt Rudy decided to give wrestling a try as an eighth-grader, little did he know the sport would end up providing him a college education.
Now, after an amazing career at Cane Bay High School, Rudy is set to take his talents to the next level. Rudy, a two-time state champion at 195 pounds, is the All-Lowcountry wrestler of the year for the second consecutive season. He recently signed his letter of intent to wrestle at Limestone College for coach Kelly Revells, a former state champion wrestler at Summerville and former assistant at Newberry.
Fort Dorchester coach Deral Brown, who took the Patriots to the Class AAAA state duals finals in his first season as head coach, is the coach of the year.
Rudy not only will leave Cane Bay as the most accomplished wrestler in school history, but he also leaves as the best football player to ever wear a Cobra uniform. Football, in fact, has always been Rudy’s first love and primary focus.
As a four-year starter at linebacker, Rudy amassed more than 600 career tackles — easily the most in the eight-year history of the program. It was while Rudy was weightlifting for football that wrestling coach Tim Wash, also the linebackers coach at Cane Bay, suggested wrestling to him as a way to improve as a football player.
“It all just kind of happened,” said Rudy, who sports a 4.06 grade point average. “Coach Wash felt wrestling could help me in terms of my balance and my mental and physical toughness. Growing up, since I was seven years old, my dream was to play college football. I wanted to do whatever I had to do to become the best football player I could be so if he said wrestling would help, I was willing to try.”
Rudy became hooked on wrestling almost immediately and never looked back. He went 40-4 as a freshman, 44-4 as a sophomore, 42-0 as a junior and 45-0 against state competition as a senior. Of his 171 career wins, 127 have come via pin. His remarkable strength (380 bench press, 525 squat) and balance have helped him earn All-American honors twice.
“I never imagined I would have the success in wrestling that I have had,” said Rudy. “I never dreamed wrestling would take me this far and give me the opportunities to compete on a national stage. It’s been amazing for me to experience.”
Rudy made the tough decision to focus on wrestling at the college level. He chose Limestone after weighing opportunities in both sports from several other schools.
“It’s hard to predict the future, but I would say football is over for me, which is tough to say,” said Rudy. “Wrestling has opened a lot of doors for me and I think it will continue to do so at Limestone. I’m going to miss football in the worst way, but I think all of the fall training for wrestling will help take my mind off football.”
Rudy looks forward to the challenges ahead while also taking pride in what he left behind at Cane Bay.
“I hope I helped set a new standard at Cane Bay,” he said. “I hope the younger guys learned something from me. I want them to know that hard work pays off. Make the sacrifices necessary to be the best you can be and good things will happen. I hope I leave here having made a positive impact. That’s always been a big goal of mine.”