The William Byrd “Big Orange” wrestlers finished third in the annual Big Orange
Classic in Vinton last week. The Terriers had one Big Orange champion, sophomore
Darin Witcher, and put three other wrestlers in Saturday’s finals.
The Big Orange is the longest continuous running wrestling tournament in the
Roanoke Valley, hosted by William Byrd High School. This year’s tournament included
18 teams and Lord Botetourt came out on top for the third straight season, amassing 248
points. Salem was second with 220 points and three champions, followed by the Terriers
with 204. Northside was fourth at 190 and Cave Spring came in fifth with 177.5 points,
outscoring sixth place Riverheads by four points.
The tournament was held Friday and Saturday, with semifinals on Friday evening.
The wrestlers returned for consolation bouts at 10 am Saturday morning, and when it was
time for the finals the lights were dimmed and the spotlight was on the big orange mat
that decided the 2023 champions.
Byrd got off to a great start with a champion in the very first match of the
championship round. Witcher pinned long-time rival Xaiden Wynn of James River in
5:20 to improve his record to 16-1 on the season. Darin pinned his way through the
bracket with pins in 1:09, 12 seconds and 44 seconds before defeating Wynn, who came
into the tournament with just one loss.
“I was very proud of Darin’s match in the finals,” said Byrd coach Thomas
Kessler. “He avenged a loss from last year and pinned a state champion. He’s looking
good and will try to keep wrestling this well all season.”
Next up for Byrd in the finals was freshman Zane Taylor at 126. Zane won three
matches to make the final before losing to Wayshaun Hicks of Northside. He’s now 14-5.
“Zane surprised some people and made it into the finals,” said Kessler. “He
wrestled well all tournament and all year long.”
At 157, Bricen Lancaster had two pins and a major decision to reach the
championship round against undefeated Joel Swanson of Northside. Lancaster gave
Swanson a tough match before losing by a 6-2 score. Bricen is now 7-5.
Byrd’s last entry in the championship round was at 190 with Aidan Lucas, who
pinned his way into the finals. Aidan settled for second with a 5-2 loss to Josh Bisnett of
Smith Mountain Lake in the championship match, and he’s now 15-4.
The Terriers had three consolation champs, earning third place points. Lane
Brunk was third at 106, Gage Cockran took third at 144 and Stephen Underwood was
third at 165. Also scoring were Curtis Dillon with a fifth at 138 and two sixth place
finishers, Kyle Kalinke at 113 and Sawyer Bolen at 157.
The Terriers will be right back on the mats this week when they travel to Heritage
High School for the “Take Down the New Year” tournament. That will be held Thursday
and Friday in Lynchburg.