Everybody covets the spot.
The one thing about being first… there can be only one. Guys like George Washington, Alan Shepherd, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong, all firsts.
Nobody remembers the guy who did it second.
Pop quiz time: Who was the second guy to discover America?
The other thing about being first, it takes a special person to be “The First.”
Like Timberland’s Bernard Harmon, Cane Bay has Matt Rudy, their first state champion in any sport.
Like Harmon, Rudy breezed through the 195-pound Class AAAA competition to win the Cobras’ first state championship. His name will be tagged to the sentence prefix, “Not since Matt Rudy did it in 2014...,” long after he has grown old, gray, and has kids and even grandkids of his own.
And whenever Cane Bay decides to open up its own Hall of Fame, Matt Rudy’s name should be among the first to be considered, because he was the first.
Like Harmon at Timberland, Rudy is just a junior with one state championship under his belt. He finished the season with a perfect 35-0 record. It gives him another goal to shoot for next year besides defending his state championship, keeping that winning streak alive.
While he said winning a gold medal gives him confidence going into next season he does not plan to spend the next ten months obsessing about the future. “I’m just taking each and everyday to prepare for the future because to me it takes being in the right mindset 365 days out of the year to become successful.”
Rudy is aware of the honor he earned back on the weekend of February 28 and March 1. He calls his first gold medal “an unbelievable honor,” and enjoys the uniqueness of wrestling.
“Wrestling is like it’s own separate community,” he said. “You make new friends all the time.”
To look at Rudy it’s hard to imagine that much strength and power crammed into this compact frame.
He is scuplted like Hercules but stands a few inches shy of six feet tall. He has Gumby-like fleibility and was able to draw advantage from what looked like the most disadvantageous positions at the time.
The enormity of what he appeared to have accomplished so easily hit him immediately after the final whistle blew. “To be honest it was very emotional, just putting in all the hard work, to having the best coaches in the state, to all the sprints and drills.. To have it all pay off is just an overwhelming feeling.”
Rudy said when he took down Hillcrest’s Landon Sayegh in overtime it was “The second best time in my life.”
His top life moment was when he’d been saved.
The scary thing about being Matt Rudy, or facing Matt Rudy on the mat is that he’ll be back next year. Like Harmon, he will come back in 2014-2015 with a state title to defend, and like Harmon, there is no other athlete in the state that stands a chance against him that might keep him from winning a second state championship.
Wrestling since seventh grade, Rudy would like to continue either his wrestling or football career on the collegiate level. He gives credit to God and his family for their support over the years. “I wouldn’t have able to do this with out an amazing God giving me the strength and courage throughout everything and the best family in the world I couldn’t ask for better parents and a better sister.”
Matt Rudy is the boy next door, the consummate gentleman, gracious and humble in victory, a champion’s champion.
And Cane Bay’s first.
I can’t think of a better guy to wear that badge.
Finding Mudville is a weekly column that runs in the Summerville Journal Scene’s sister paper The Berkeley Independent