Matt Moore’s accomplishments on the wrestling mat speak loud and clear.
The Apalachee High School junior placed sixth at state as a freshman — an almost unheard of accomplishment according to coach Jim Stoudenmire — and then won a state championship at 220 as a sophomore.
Now Moore is set to return to the state’s biggest wrestling stage and anything less than another first-place medal would, in all honesty, be a shock.
Termed a “monster on the mat,” by his coach, Moore has steamrolled his competition in 2012-2013 with a 44-1 record. His only loss came in a match in which Stoudenmire decided to default to prevent a possible injury. Moore was way ahead on points at the time and was likely a move or two away from winning on a technical fall.
Still, his coach did not want to risk an entire season for one match.
“Matt is good natured and friendly when he’s not wrestling,” Stoudenmire said. “However, when the match begins, he flips a switch. He something else once he steps into the circle. He has the ability like the great ones to turn it on and off.”
In the championship match at state sectionals, Moore defeated Pope High School’s Joey Tabachino 5-1. His finals opponent was one of the few this season to push Moore to all three periods. Predictions leading into state have the two meeting once again.
“Our side of the sectionals was pretty scary,” Stoudenmire said. “There may be three or four weight classes in the state finals where it will be a rematch of the state sectional championship. I certainly think 220 can be one of them.”
In the state sectional final, Moore had a “great game plan,” according to his coach.
“Tabichino is such a freight train for the first 45 seconds that some wondered if Matt could weather the storm,” Stoudenmire said. “Most opponents don’t make it out of that first minute against him. However, Matt wouldn’t play his game and wouldn’t stand in front of him. Matt took him down and worked hard. I don’t think Matt could have drawn up a better plan. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they meet again in the finals. You never want to discount anyone, but I have a feeling those two will be there.”
Moore is so forceful — and dominant on the mat — that often Stoudenmire himself has to wrestle against him in practice.
“He beats on me pretty good,” the coach said. “I can hang with him for a little bit, but I know when I have been on the mat with him.”
As he prepared for practice Monday afternoon, Moore said he plans to “go out and wrestle just like he always has” this week in Macon.
“Being ranked No. 1 in the state is a big honor,” Moore said. “I figure I’ve done something right to be ranked No. 1.”
Having been involved with the sport since he was 5-years-old, Moore said he was pleased by his performance at sectionals.
“It would be big to win state back-to-back,” Moore said. “I will keep the same routine this week and just keep working hard. I will probably try to push myself a little more.”
The Mat Wildcat junior will begin his quest for a repeat Thursday.
Moore will be one of four AHS wrestlers at the state finals in Macon beginning Thursday. Teammates Justin Skinner, Trey Dobbs and Kevin Bindschutz each qualified by finishing in the top eight of their respective weight classes at sectionals. Bindshutz was third while Dobbs was fourth and Skinner sixth.
“All of them wrestled well at sectionals,” Stoudenmire said. “I am pleased with how everyone looked. Our area is tough enough, but when you look at our sectionals, it’s very difficult to advance.”
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