For the first time in at least fifteen years, a Macon wrestler has brought home a state title. Immanuel Henderson is a Rutland senior and he competed in the 113-pound weight class earlier this month. The Hurricane is also a force in the classroom, and because of all of his accomplishments, he is our "Athlete of the Week."
Even in the middle of science class, it's not unusual to see Immanuel Henderson grinning. His teacher Brian Butler calls his senior naturally curious. "That's the great thing is the attitude, and I'm sure he's got stuff going on in his life, but he always has a positive attitude and that makes or breaks everything," Butler said.
That positive attitude has helped propel the senior to an overall 3.2 grade point average. But there is another reason that Henderson is pretty happy these days. Stephen Koehler is his wrestling coach.
"We talked right before Christmas time and told him if he went down, he'd have a better shot of winning state," Koehler explained.
Koehler convinced Henderson to hit the mat at the113-pound classification as opposed to the 125 level. "The main thing I ate during the season was yogurt, protein bars, fruits, and water," Henderson recalled.
That strict diet along with what his coach called a "fire to win" brought a lot of success. Henderson goes down as the first individual wrestler to win a state championship in Rutland history. "He jumped into my arms and my assistant coach's arms, and I was just so excited for him," Koehler said.
"Then when I got back to the middle in the center and I shook the guy's hand, I just busted out in tears, it was so emotional," Henderson said with a smile.
You would think a guy that just won a state title would get some time off. But Henderson has college coaches to impress.
He's already laid the groundwork with his grades and in all honesty its just decision time. "Well, it's between Darton and Brewton Parker. Those are the two main ones, but I just gotta see. I'm visiting Brewton Parker Saturday," he said.
Henderson figures he will major in mathematics. It's a strategy his science teacher thinks will take him wherever the wrestler wants to go.
"I wish I could have a lot more students like him. He's focused on his academics, he's focused on his extracurricular activities. He's, overall, just a great young man," Butler said.