Webb is first Byrd wrestler to win Big Orange title in 10 years

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Poquoson walked away with the big trophy as the Big Orange Classic moved to the holiday break last week. Host William Byrd was seventh in the 19 team tournament and the Terriers had an individual champion for the first time since 2008 when Jerze Webb won at 145.

The Big Orange was moved from the last week in January to the holiday break this year with hopes of attracting more teams and avoiding bad weather. It also figured to cause lest traffic around the school with the kids on break, and that was surely the case.

“Everything ran smooth,” said Byrd coach Thomas Kessler. “I think it was a good idea to move it.”

Poquoson, a perennial state contender, smoked the field with 277.5 points and six individual champions. Rockbridge was second at 155.5 and two Blue Ridge District teams followed, Northside with 150 and Lord Botetourt with 148. Then came Franklin County at 128, Liberty Christian Academy at 126 and Byrd in seventh overall with 124 points, just four behind fifth.

“Our team took some lumps and lost a few matches we shouldn’t have,” said Kessler.

The big story of the tournament for the Terriers was Webb at 145. A freshman, he was the first William Byrd wrestler to stand on the top step at the Big Orange since Aaron Thompson won in 2008. Kessler, a former Big Orange champ himself, knows how special that is.

“Winning the Big Orange was definitely a big highlight of my wrestling career,” he said. “Jerze has really grown as a wrestler.”

Webb went 5-0 in the tournament. He opened with first period pins over Codi  Fisher of Brookville in 1:06, William Taylor of Hidden Valley in 1:47 and David Marshall of Heritage in 1:28. In the semifinals he took a 9-6 decision over Seth Youngblood of Rockbridge, setting up a match with Hunter Sell of Lord Botetourt in the finals.

This was one of the most interesting bouts of the tournament. Sell came in at 20-1 and had pinned Webb in a previous match, and Hunter’s father, Randall Sell, is a former Big Orange champ from his days at William Byrd. Randall is now a volunteer assistant at Lord Botetourt.

The match went down to the wire before Webb pulled it out with a 12-10 decision. The win lifted Jerze’s record to 15-2 on the season.

Three other Terriers placed. Trinity Otey took a third at 138, winning his first three matches before losing to Blake Eames of Bassett in the semis. Trinity then wrestled back to the consolation final, where he beat Josiah Grooten of Lord Botetourt, 2-1, to run his record to 13-6.

Derek Burton and Clay Pilgreen both took fifth. Burton went 4-2 at 106 and he’s now 11-6. He beat T.J. Lee of Northside in the fifth place match, 5-0.

Pilgreen is 14-4 at 120 and he was also 4-2 in the Big Orange, losing both times to Jalen Fyffe of Brookville. Fyffe edged Clay in the second round, 10-9, then beat him in the consolation semifinal, 10-6. Pilgreen rallied to pin Kaden Unroe of LCA in the fifth place match.

This weekend the Terriers will be back on the mats with a two day tournament in Lynchburg hosted by Liberty Christian Academy. The tournament has a 33 team field.

“It’s our largest tournament,” said Kessler. “We look to keep improving.”