Russell County Wrestler Shelby Fugate Looks to Make AHSAA State History
FUGATE HAS A (55-23) RECORD GOING INTO THE STATE TOURNAMENT; SHE LOOKS TO BE THE FIRST GIRL TO WIN A STATE MATCH
The Alabama High School State wrestling tournament begins this Thursday, February 13, in Huntsville, and the Russell County Warriors are sending four athletes to compete for the school’s first title. Senior wrestler, Shelby Fugate, is looking to make AHSAA history. While it is a family inspired sport, in Alabama the high school wrestling division is for the boys.
“I know a lot of girls who have messaged me and are like, ‘My parents won’t let me do it. What can I say to do this?’” said Fugate. “This pain is temporary.”
Her father was in the military and understood pain. He along with Shelby’s other siblings decided to train to wrestle and compete. Russell County Wrestling Head Coach Eric Chamberlin saw the talent in his new athlete for the 2019-20 season. Fugate has wrestled for five years, but just moved to the new school as a senior.
“Shelby has stepped up and she’s also went out there and beat a lot of opponents who are stronger than her, so she’s shown me that girls can compete against guys in this sport.”
The 5’5″ AHSAA Class 6A, 106 weight class wrestler has overcome many obstacles. While playing football she tore her ACL, and when she returned Fugate broke her back. During her senior season of wrestling, she has watched 8-9 opponents forfeit from competing against her on the mat.
“Mostly it’s because I’m a girl,” said Fugate. “Another coach says that they were scared to go against me. Other people said they don’t want to hurt me. Other say they didn’t want to get hurt by me because a dude’s shoulder once.”
Her technique and elusiveness on the floor have helped her advance to state competition. Fugate joins Weaver High seventh grader Lena Johannson for a chance to become one of the first girls in AHSAA history to win a State wrestling match. Johannson competes in the Class 1A-5A, 106 weight class.
“I think it’s going to have a lot more possibilities for the upcoming female wrestlers,” said Fugate. “As long as one of us, me or her. I’m rooting for her! I want her to win so bad.”
Prior to the state tournament, Fugate holds a record of (55-23). Her wins total earned her a spot in the AHSAA record books for victories in a season. The full list can be seen on the All-Time Records list.
“It’s made me a believer,” said Coach Chamberlin. “That they can compete in this sport and win.”
“I just want to break that mold,” said Fugate. “Because once one person does it, everyone starts doing it.”
Currently 20 states host a girls wrestling championship, including Georgia. Starting Thursday, February 13, Fugate will join the other AHSAA state qualifiers in the prelims. Good luck to all of our local wrestlers.