Covenant’s Rick Weaver just knows when to turn it on. Run into him during a tournament when he doesn’t have a match coming up and he’s bound to be smiling or laughing with another wrestler from another team.
“I always try to talk to some guys just to calm myself down because I don’t want to get nervous or freaked out,” Weaver said.
Then when his match is coming up, he throws music on his headphones and finds a quiet corner then when it’s time to wrestle, he’s ready.
“When it’s time to go he flips a switch and he’s an intense competitor,” said Covenant coach Brian Lee. “That’s good for him, you can’t stay in that mindset all day, you’ll burn yourself out.”
That mindset helped Weaver pin his way to his fourth-straight state title Saturday, as the Covenant senior completed his run at the top of the heavyweight division in much the same way he burst on the scene. Back in 2016, Weaver won the state title as a freshman by pinning Benedictine’s Ian Williams and on Saturday he pinned Benedictine’s Brian Daughtry to earn his fourth straight championship.
“It just showed me that I’m still working, I need to still work on wrestling. Getting that fourth title, it didn’t really hit me and it hasn’t really hit me yet,” Weaver said.
That work is just not as simple for Weaver as it is for a lot of other wrestlers. He can’t just concentrate and work hard in the Eagles’ mat room and get where he wants to go.
“We’ve had to seek out adversity for him,” said Covenant coach Brian Lee. “Joseph Payne was able to push him every day and when Joseph graduated he didn’t have that daily challenge.”
One way of seeking out adversity was Covenant adding assistant coach Joshua Travers, a former heavyweight at Liberty who has helped push Weaver in practice.
Weaver’s victory also helped power Covenant to a Division 3 state title. The Eagles got a couple of other impressive performances from John Gayle and Michael Morales that gave them a huge boost toward the team title.
“That was fantastic,” Lee said. “Those guys stepped up their game.”
Gayle, an eighth grader at 113 pounds, fought back from a first round pin to get on the podium with an eighth-place finish. He won three tough matchups before falling in the seventh place match, winning on a third period pin after trailing 5-0, getting a 6-5 decision and then winning in sudden victory 7-5.
Morales wasn’t at 100 percent because of some sickness and being banged up, but after getting pinned in the quarterfinals of a packed 132-pound bracket, he reeled off a pin and a 9-3 decision before falling in the fifth place match to finish sixth.
The Eagles have a particularly young squad, but sought out tough competition all year in an effort to get better and be prepared by the time the state championships rolled around. Clearly that plan and approach paid off in a big way with the divisional state title.
“We got points from a lot of wrestlers,” Lee said. “We’ve been talking all year about process, we haven’t worried about results. To see them cap the season that way was really great.”
Weaver’s season isn’t finished yet. He’ll head to Lehigh, Pennsylvania next week for the National Prep Wrestling Tournament where he’s the No. 2 seed and will battle some of the nation’s best wrestlers for a shot at a national championship.