The old saying “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” might be a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Especially in regard to James Taylor.
Taylor, a Southern Durham senior who regularly competes at 195 pounds, captured the 220-pound championship at the 21st Tiger Holiday Classic by holding off Caleb Spurlin of Galax (Va.) 5-2, improving to 16-0 on the year.
With the victory, Taylor now can focus on competing in his regular division for the rest of the season without the chore of weight cutting.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Taylor, whose father is coach of the Spartans. “There are some tough guys out here, but all I do is win. That’s all I do.”
Jack Britt, ranked No. 1 in 4A, continued an impressive start to the season by capturing the team championship, its second title in a multiteam tournament within a week.
Buccaneers Marcelino Aponte (106) and Richard Tolston (126) won individual championships, and Christopher White (132) and Brad Wanovich (113) finished runner-up in their weight classes.
Overall, eight Buccaneers placed among the top five. If only they had been at full strength.
Britt had just finished the WRAL Invitational Wrestling Tournament at Athens Drive, which the Buccaneers also won during the weekend. It left several starters banged up and unable to compete in the Tiger.
So coach John DeWeese inserted several freshmen into various weight classes, yet he still came away with the team title.
“It means a lot because I put in the freshmen to see how tough my team is,” said DeWeese. “I thought I would have a full team, but people go out of town for the holidays and stuff happens. It was a pretty impressive win.”
Holly Springs finished second, behind 138-pound champion Cam Devers and heavyweight runner-up Charles Toogood, who dropped a 3-1 decision to Asheboro’s Nicholas Coe. Toogood is 22-1 on the year. The Hawks’ Josh Richardson also finished second at 182.
Perennial power Orange finished sixth in the team standings, placing five wrestlers. The Panthers’ Melik Jimenez finished second at 152, dropping the championship match to Thomas Flitz of Piedmont 5-3.
Carrboro High came away with its best showing in the Tiger, placing four wrestlers among the top five. The top finisher was Otto Wolin, who fell in the 106-pound championship match to Aponte.
“That was a good match for Otto,” said Carrboro coach DeWitt Driscoll. “He really set the tone for the rest of the season with this tournament. He’s been knocking on the door against the higher-ranked wrestlers throughout the season and he beat a few of them this week.”
Carrboro’s Dante Veltri, barely one year after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, finished in fifth place at 120. Magnus Herwyer of Carrboro came in fifth at heavyweight.
Chapel Hill’s George McBurney finished fourth at 220 pounds, barely three weeks after finishing football season as the Tigers’ starting center.
Pinecrest’s Irvin Enriquez scored a pin in the championship round, scoring the fall on Britt’s Jacob Butler at 4 minutes, 40 seconds of the 132 final. Enriquez is 10-0.