For the seventh time, the Orange Panthers have captured the team championship in the Jim King/Orange Invitational Wrestling Tournament.

Behind championship in their respective weight classes from Payton Wilson and Josiah Ramirez, the Panthers finished with 232 points in the 36th annual tournament held at Jim King Gymnasium in Hillsborough.

Middle Creek, making its tournament debut, finished with 211 points behind two champions and a runner-up finish. Cary, which has won the event a record 20 times, finished third with 202.5 points.

Of the 33 times Cary has competed in the JKO, they’ve finished in the top 3 31 times.

When the state football playoffs were extened an extra week by the NCHSAA because of Hurricane Matthew, Orange Coach Bobby Shriner was concerned he wouldn’t have his full array of grapplers available for the JKO. If there was a benefit to Orange’s loss against Havelock in the 2nd round of the 3-A state playoffs, it was Peyton Wilson and Daylan Alston would be available to report back to Shriner’s wrestling practices immediately.

Wilson defeated Corinth Holders’ Larry Williams 1-0 in the championship match at 220 pounds. It came on the same week that Wilson was named Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year and received football scholarship offers from Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

Too bad Wilson wasn’t in peak wrestling condition. Or even semi-peak condition. After all of four practices, Wilson wrestled Person’s Marcus Vincent in Friday’s opening round, pinning him in :21.

Wilson, currently #1 in the state at 220, also pinned Cedar Ridge’s Izaac Rivera in :42 Saturday morning to reach the final.

“It felt weird,” said Wilson. “In wrestling, there’s no substitute for being on the mat. Football can’t prepare you for that.”

Wilson finished 3rd in last year’s JKO at 220.

Rivera rebounded to finish 3rd for Cedar Ridge. he pinned Davin Van in 2:06 in the consolation final.

Jiminez scored three pins on his path to the 170-pound championship. In Saturday’s championship, he scored a 17-6 decision over Leesville Road’s Cade Collins. It was the only time he went the distance in the tournament.

Jiminez pinned Bartlett-Yancey’s Justin Guy in 1:27 on Friday afternoon. Less than two hours later, he disposed of Northern Durham’s Robbie Rich in 2:30.

In Saturday’s semifinals, Jiminez pinned Jason Chopp of Middle Creek in :32.

Orange had four runner-ups. At 106 pounds, Mitchell Askew lost to Cary freshman Kobe Early in 2:39. Askew earned three victories in the tournament. He pinned Corinth Holders’ Austin Carroll in :25 on Friday, then notched a major decision over Leesvile Road’s Max Buico. In Saturday’s semifinals, he pinned Chatham Central’s Cade Fields at 4:29.

At 120, Southern Alamance’s McKray Mundy edged Orange’s Gavin Wiggins 1-0. Wiggins pinned Clayton’s Logan Jones in :44 and Person’s Landon Moser on Friday, then scored a 17-5 major decision over Riverside’s Jalen Adams.

At 132, Leesville Road’s Dan Mills defeated Orange’s Bailey Hawkins 11-4 in the championship match. Hawkins earned two wins on Friday, pinning Taylor Graves of Bartlett Yancy in 1:05, then edging Milbrook’s Isaiah Willett 5-4 to advance to Saturday’s semifinals. Hawkins advanced to the final with a victory over Middle Creek’s Dylan Majette.

At 195, Jamar Davis finished second after dropping a 6-2 decision to Middle Creek’s Gabriel Puckett. Davis pinned Northern Durham’s Gabriel Puckett in the semifinals in 3:16 after edging Cardinal Gibbons’ Joey Petrucelli 3-2 on Friday.

At 285, Daylen Alston finished third after pinning Leesville Road’s Brandon Govan in 2:25.

Cedar Ridge’s Colin Davis finished 3rd at 160, edging Riverside’s Chris Whitaker 7-6 on Saturday. It was Davis’ 2nd win over Whitaker in as many days. On Friday, he defeated Whitaker 4-2.

Orange’s Charlie Fitzpatrick captured 3rd place at 152.

Chatham Central’s Nick Daggett was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning his 2nd consecutive JKO championship at 113.

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