High school wrestling player of the year

May 24, 2017
  • By Stan Awtrey
  • For the AJC
Henry P. Taylor
Drew Eller, who has been wrestling since the age of six, poses for a portrait in the Evans High School gym in Augusta, Georgia, on May 3, 2017. Eller moved to Augusta from Colorado, where the wrestling scene is much more competitive. He went undefeated in the 2016 season and won his weight class as a freshman, making him the first from the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) to do so. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

Wrestler of the Year

Drew Eller, Evans

Achievements: Went 51-0 and won the Class AAAAAA championship in the 126-pound weight division. 2016 Georgia Freestyle Champion and Greco Roman Champion. No. 3-ranked Future Olympian by USA Wrestling.

Height/Weight: 5-foot-8, 150 pounds

Class: Freshman

College choice: I haven’t made any decision because I’m still a freshman. I’m going to visit a lot of college campuses this year and next.

Best high school moment: Winning the state championship. It was pretty cool because that’s always been a really big goal of mine since I started when I was 6. That I could finally get that done was good. I knew I had a chance with all the training I had done. I knew I had the ability.

Why wrestling: I started out playing football. One of my teammates decided he’d try wrestling in the offseason after football. I decided I’d try it with him, just for fun. He quit after two weeks, but I stayed with it. I don’t like other people depending on you for stuff. All you have to depend on is yourself.

What you’d like to be doing in 10 years: I’ll only be 25 then, so I’ll probably be training to try to get an Olympic spot and also coaching youth wrestling.

Favorite high school course: Math comes really, really easy. (He was recognized as the top freshman math student in the school at an assembly.) Any kind of math, really.

People who helped along the way: First of all, God, and my mom and dad (Greg and Tonya) and my siblings, especially my younger brother (Jackson). He’s been my training partner since he started. He always trains with me.

Toughest high school opponent: Tanner Chavis of Boiling Springs, S.C., in the semifinals of a tournament. I won 14-6, which is a major decision, but it was a very tough match, my toughest of the year. I didn’t cut any weight for that, and he was a bigger than me and he was a senior. He ended up winning South Carolina state championship.

Favorite movie: “Pinned,” a wrestling documentary out of Ohio. It was all real stuff. It didn’t hide anything, like how you lose weight or gain weight. It was just straight. It’s about two brothers around the same age as me and my brother who were both Ohio state champions.

Favorite song: “The Champ” by Nelly. I like listening to songs that are going to pump me up before matches.

Worst high school moment: I haven’t had any actual bad high school moments, other than it was just hard to fit in at first because it’s a new school, new town. Everybody made me feel welcome.

If you could be any other athlete on earth: Alex Dieringer. He’s a three-time national champion and he just graduated from Oklahoma State. I like his style and his story. He went to a high school like mine that didn’t have a lot of wrestling success, but he ended up going D-I and winning three national titles.

Money or happiness? Happiness. Money doesn’t really do it for me. Good family is important. God keeps me happy all the time.

Best word to describe yourself: Driven. That describes me in wrestling and in school. The lowest grade I had was C, but as soon as I saw it coming they helped me fix it and pull it back up.

View of the world at this moment: I live a blessed life. I have a supportive family and go to a good school with good people. And I have God behind me at all times. Those three things are all good.

What you would put in a time capsule: Popular wrestling shoes for today. They might be worth a lot of money some day.