Rodgers signs to wrestle for UIndy HoundsMay 4, 2020
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
SANTA CLAUS — It’s been a senior year to remember for Phoenix Rodgers.
Let’s go through the list of things he accomplished, shall we? The Heritage Hills senior was a state runner-up in football, a semistate champion in wrestling and took fifth place in the 195-pound class at state, finishing with 133 wins in his high school mat career.
Rodgers added another honor to the list on Saturday — NCAA student-athlete. He signed his letter of intent to continue his wrestling career at the University of Indianapolis, a Division II program.
“It’s nice to get that kind of title with me wrestling in D2 and everything,” Rodgers said. “It’s a really big step going from high school to an actual division.”
Rodgers talked about the different things that influenced his decision. He wanted something small, so UIndy checks off that box. Rodgers intends to major in nursing, and he lauded the school’s nursing program.
He attracted interest from both in-state and out-of-state programs, but the proximity from home to campus is perfect for him. Rodgers said he probably made his decision “about a month ago,” and now he is set to fulfill a dream he has had since elementary school.
Heritage Hills wrestling coach Adam Zollman called Rodgers’ signing a product of “him working his tail off.” Zollman noted that Rodgers has athletic prowess, and has worked hard in every sport he has competed in.
“I feel sorry for his practice partner (at UIndy), because I had to be his partner all year, and my ribs are finally recovered from not being in the room for a while,” Zollman said. “Whoever his partner is, he’s going to have to watch his head. The kid’s going to work hard. He’s going to explode through people, and he’s going to continue to make himself the best wrestler he possibly can do.”
Zollman will most miss the leadership Rodgers provided to the team. He said Rodgers wasn’t a yeller, but everybody listened when he said something, and they always regained focus after that. Zollman hailed Rodgers as someone middle school and younger wrestlers looked up to.
Rodgers joined fellow seniors Sam Scott and Beau Heeke to form a formidable trio at Heritage Hills, but Zollman is not concerned about the future of the program.
“Obviously, losing three studs, it’s going to be tough,” he said. “The beauty of us, we’re very young. We used that terminology a lot last year, but now, these guys are going to continue to grow and grow and grow.”
Rodgers thinks he needs to work on his conditioning and technique, because college is a different animal compared to high school, and he’ll need to mentally prepare himself for that.
“I’m really wanting to come to the team and kind of bring in a new, I wouldn’t say atmosphere, but a new way of hard work and dedication to the sport,” Rodgers said.
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