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Bob Jones sophomore wrestler Maddox Sunderman became the fourth wrestler in school history to be named All-American after a strong eighth place finish at the High School Nationals. Photo Contributed

Bob Jones Wrestler Named All-American; Maddox Sunderman Faced Nation’s Best

MADISON- Packed up in his black Jeep, 16-year old Maddox Sunderman can be seen riding through Madison with a more of a smile than he usually flashes after his recent three-day trip to Virginia Beach, Va. The two-sport athlete from Bob Jones High returned from his trek to the fine beaches of the East Coast with the honor of being named an All-American Heavyweight Wrestler and became Bob Jones’ first heavyweight All-American.

Sunderman and four others from the Patriots program made the trip. Those joining “Mad Dog” were Evan Pippin, Jack Shaver and Ronin Amsler. They participated in the 32nd annual High School Nationals, regarded as the premier wrestling tournament in the country, held at the Virginia Beach Sports Center, which is part of the National High School Coaches Association.

“When I first walked in I was really intimidated as the experience was a whole new thing for me,” said Sunderman. “I’ve never been a part of a national level wrestling event and there was a lot more competition than I was used to.”

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound sophomore took to the mats for five matches and posted a 2-3 record and finished eighth out of 64 wrestlers from across the country. He was pinned once and lost two close one-point decisions. On the winning side, he pinned one opponent and scored a 10-2 decision for his second victory. He said of his matches, “I quickly found out I couldn’t muscle my way through the competition. I had to use my head and try and pace myself.”

Sunderman is expected to take over the reins of top heavyweight wrestler for the Patriots this fall after being in the shadows of state finalist Drew Lawson, who chose to play college football at Southern Miss this fall upon his graduation from Bob Jones. Sunderman’s rise to prominence began when he took up the sport in the eighth grade as he was also playing football at Discovery Middle School. He watched Lawson since his start in the sport and always inspired to one day make the move to the top of the weight class.

Upon arriving at Bob Jones, Sunderman quickly became a mainstay on the offensive line for the football team earning second-team All-State honors as a sophomore. He also chose to remain with wrestling under the guidance of Bob Jones head coach Matthew Sweatman, but he also made his way to club wrestling at the Tennessee Valley Wrestling Club where’s he’s been coached by Bob Jones Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Ken Clark.

“I love both sports as they go hand-in-hand and I feel I’m equally good in both sports,” said Sunderman.

The son of Ryan and Kresta Sunderman, the heavyweight wrestler also has two younger brothers who tangle with opponents on the wrestling mats. Brody is an eighth grader and wrestles in the 205-pound division while fifth grade athlete, Cooper, mixes it up in the 100-pound weight class.

The football world can be very demanding in more ways than just putting on pads and knocking heads with similar high school athletes. When you carry talent such as Sunderman’s you have to deal with college recruiting and he’s currently seeing the entourage of recruiters knocking at his door. He’s received numerous communications from the likes of Duke, Florida State, Western Kentucky and Arkansas State. He stated being able to play football and wrestle would be the ideal school.

While in Virginia, Sunderman made sure he put some sand between his toes visiting the local beaches, but his concentration was squarely on wrestling and earning the label of All-American where he joined former Bob Jones wrestlers Zaderian Toney, Zach Clark and Anthony Bruno who also carried the national banner.

Sunderman says he has confidence in his wrestling talents mostly due to his coaches instilling the feeling of being able to perform at a high level. He admitted once he got into the arena in Virginia and won his first match he was thinking he would win the entire division, but soon a reality check came about when he was pinned by the wrestler who would go on and take the heavyweight overall title.

“I got cocky. I quickly realized I need to improve in several areas as I couldn’t muscle my way through the competition and had to use my intelligence to survive,” said Sunderman.

With springtime upon the area and his jeep more open-air, it would be a nice gesture if you see him riding among the streets of Madison to wave and say hello to the newest All-American.

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