William Byrd High School will be the site of the 41st annual “Big Orange” wrestling tournament this week.
The Big Orange is the longest running tournament of its kind in the Roanoke Valley as 27 teams converge on Vinton this weekend for the event.
Action will begin at 10 am Friday and continue through 8 pm. It will pick back up on Saturday at 10 am and continue through the finals, which are scheduled for approximately 6 pm.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped get the Big Orange ready for this coming weekend,” said Byrd coach Thomas Kessler. “Lots of businesses in the community are donating things for us and we are highly appreciative. Chris Carr, Brad Catron and David Helms have been a huge help in running the tournament and getting community donations set.”
This year’s field should be wide open. Christiansburg is not entered, opening the door for some other schools. The Blue Demons are heavily favored in any tournament they enter in the greater Roanoke Valley area.
“This year’s field will be without Christiansburg but we will still have tons of great competition,” said Kessler.
In addition to host Byrd the field of schools entered includes Abingdon, Bassett, Blacksburg, Brookville, Carroll County, Cave Spring, E.C. Glass, Franklin County, Galax, Grundy, Heritage, Hidden Valley, Jefferson Forest, Liberty, Lord Botetourt, Martinsville, Northside, Patrick Henry, Patrick County, Radford, Roanoke Catholic, Robert E. Lee, Rockbridge, Rustburg, Staunton River and William Fleming.
Patrick Henry finished third in the Big Blue Classic at Christiansburg last weekend and Lord Botetourt was sixth. Both could challenge in the Big Orange, and Cave Spring also has a very strong team and might be considered the favorite.
William Byrd competed in the Big Blue for the first time last weekend and finished eighth. Host Christiansburg easily won the team title, finishing 101 points ahead of second place Poquoson.
Adam Catron, at 182, and Clay Pilgreen, at 113, both battled through injuries to take third places at Christiansburg. Both Pilgreen and Catron pinned their opponents for third while dealing with leg injuries, but they’re expected to be fine for the Big Orange.
Hunter Kemper placed fourth in a 138 lineup with some stout competition. Zach Barnett had the best tournament of his career and finished fifth overall at 170. Zach Figart placed sixth and Trinity Otey placed eighth in the Big Blue.
“We are looking to have a Big Orange champion, something we haven’t done in quite some time,” said Kessler.
The Big Orange will be Byrd’s last tournament before the Conference 24 tourney the following weekend at Carroll County.