With his state championship still fresh on everyone’s mind, I wanted to use my column this week to share thoughts and insights on Apalachee High School’s Matt Moore.
As chronicled in last week’s edition, Moore steamrolled through the competition at 220 pounds this season on his way to another state championship and a perfect 52-0 record. Moore finishes his high school career with two state titles and a state runner-up showing.
It has been a fun ride detailing this young man’s accomplishments on the wrestling mat. Through him, I have learned more about the sport and learned just how special a student-athlete he is.
Moore is something akin to the super hero who goes about his business in the open, but then becomes someone else when it’s time for battle. Even when Moore is waiting on his next match, he shows what a paradox he is.
During the state finals last month, Moore would patiently wait for his next match by listening to music through his headphones and observing other matches. The glasses he wore made you think he should be reading a law book rather than biding his time for a wrestling match.
In talking with him, there is not one ounce of arrogance or overconfidence displayed. He takes each match seriously and never underestimates an opponent.
Jim Stoudenmire, who coached Moore for three seasons, said the wrestler becomes a “monster on the mat” and is able to flip the switch like only a few can.
“He’s the nicest kid when he’s not wrestling,” Stoudenmire said. “However, when you get on the mat with him, he’s a beast.”
Graham Burns, who has helped coach Moore during his career, said it doesn’t take a lot of coaching ability when it comes to his state champion.
“It’s hard to really teach him anything because he knows the sport so well,” Burns said. “You mainly try to keep him focused and make sure he is not risking injury. Other than that, you really just turn him loose and tell him to go about his business like he always does.”
All of Moore’s victories this season have been impressive. However, to me it’s always more impressive to dominate an opponent in the state championship match. In theory, anyone who gets that far has to be good. You don’t advance through several rounds on luck alone.
Yet even so, Moore was just as dominant against his last opponent as he was against any opponent he faced. The match was over rather quickly and the state championship was once again his.
Perhaps Burns summed it up best when he said: “I don’t think anyone was going to beat him. I just don’t see how it could have happened.”
Moore will finish his high school days before preparing to attend the University of North Carolina. There will be plenty of wrestling for the AHS senior between now and then as he competes on club teams and is always working to get better on the mat.
Both Burns and Stoudenmire believe Moore has the mental and physical abilities to excel at the next level.
It’s not always easy for a standout high school athlete to translate their success to the collegiate ranks. However, Moore has shown that his desire to always improve and to always be the best is something that will help him down the road.
It will be different not seeing Moore compete next season for the Wildcats. However, his legacy will continue and not soon be forgotten.
It was a pleasure watching him at his craft and talking with a young man who clearly has his life and life’s priorities in order. He’s made not only his school proud, but the entire community. We have plenty of bad news these days and it’s nice to be able to focus on something positive.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. You can contact him at email@example.com.