HILLSBOROUGH — National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Jim King began in 1980 to invite wrestling teams from across North Carolina to compete in an annual tournament at Orange High School.
Over the course of his 16-year career as coach, King amassed a 125-28 record at Orange. In 1999, he was named the Wrestling USA Man of the Year for North Carolina, and the recognized him in 2007 for lifetime service in wrestling.
His successor 33 years later, current Panthers wrestling coach Bobby Shriner, oversees the same tournament, which has since been renamed in King’s honor.
The 33rd Annual Jim King Orange Invitational Tournament took place this past weekend at Orange High School. The two-day tournament is still a statewide affair, but it has changed over the course of its three-decade history. Only eight schools attended the first iteration, but 2013 saw 22 teams competing, as well as a partial sponsorship by the U.S. Air Force, and the sale of fresh, locally made ice cream.
Still, some things about the tournament have been constant since its inception: “Tough teams. Tough individuals. Great wrestling,” Shriner said.
Cary High School is another mainstay. The Imps have attended the JKO every year since winning the inaugural championship.
The overall team winner of the tournament has been either Cary or Orange every year since 2004. Cary won this time, edging out Orange 237-225.5.
Individual champions included Orange wrestlers Joe Scott (120 pounds) and David Peters-Logue (170). It was a first for Scott, but the second consecutive tournament championship for Peters-Logue, who was named the event's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Other local champions included Armond Berry of East Chapel Hill, who won the 195-pound title with his 6-4 decision over Aaron Rehberg of Millbrook in Saturday's finals.
Jim King himself was on hand himself to present the winners with their medals. Doubtless, he was pleased with the program he left behind.
Orange has won nine NCHSAA state championships, all on Shriner's watch, including last year's 3A state individual team title, but Shriner isn’t resting on the program's laurels. The main priority for his team remains maturation and improvement.
"Each week, we have to get better," Shriner said. "They’re a young team, younger than usual, but we have some older guys helping the younger guys along.”
In addition to Peters-Logue and Scott, Shriner will be looking to Colin Smith, state runner-up at 138, and Jared Flynn, who took third at 132 in last year’s state tournament, for leadership.
The JKO Invitational is generally regarded as a good early-season indicator of later success. Riverside coach Brandon Palmer, himself a competitor in the 1998 and 1999 Jim King tournaments, knows to keep an eye on the winners and runners-up.
“Whoever does well here will probably be doing well in the state tournament, too,” Palmer said.
If that holds true, it should be a good year for local wrestling; East Chapel Hill, Jordan, Orange, Northern Durham, and Riverside all sent competitors deep into the semifinals.
Shriner also can use the tournament to see how well his team matches up against Burlington Williams and Wendell's Corinth Holders two teams that Orange will see again this season. Early indications are good, as Orange finished well ahead of both schools.
JIM KING ORANGE INVITATIONAL
1, Cary 237, 2, Orange 225.5, 3, Northwest Guilford 221, 4, Chatham Central 144.5, 5, Northwood 139.5, 6, Jordan 136, 7, Millbrook 131, 8, Apex 104, 9, Southern Alamance 98, 10, Corinth Holders 98, 11, Leesville Road 89, 12, Person 83, 13, Northern Durham 82, 14, Riverside 75.5, 15, Smithfield-Selma 71, 16, Middle Creek 63, 17, East Chapel Hill 58, 18, Clayton 47.5, 19, Cedar Ridge 46, 20, Eastern Alamance 42.5, 21, Granville Central 22, 22, Williams 6,
106: Josh Hedrick (NWG) d. Nick Daggett (CC) 4-1. 113: Darius Dunn (CH) d. Nick Tarvin (C) 9-7. 120: Joe Scott (O) d. Tristan Dean (NWG) 5-4. 126: Parker Ragsdale (C) M-Dec James Daggett (CC) 13-4. 132: Austin Jamison (NWG) ) d. Kollin Wade (C) 5-3. 138: Will Clark (C) md. Collin Smith (O) 16-5. 145: Ke Wang (C) d. Micah Marcin (J) 7-2. 152: Tyler Ceparano (SA) Fall Daniel Krakowski (A) 2:18. 160: Mark Mulligan (C) d. Michael Queen (NWD) 10-6. 170: David Peters-Logue (O) d. Alex Zuniga (C) 7-0. 182: Atavion Oliver (NDR) d. Kaleel Gainey (J) 5-4. 195: Armond Berry (ECH) d. Aaron Rehberg (M) 6-4. 220: Cary Miller (NWG) Fall Araad Saraami (R) 4:29. 285: Gary Whitaker (Riverside) d. Courtland Parker (J) 13-6.
106: Crayton Saby (M) d. Ian Anderson (C) 3-2. 113: Caison Scott (SA) d. Alex Chong (NWG), 6-2. 120: Chase Gentry (P) p. Tyler Moon (SA) 3:48. 126: Chance Davis (A) d. Austin Comeford (NWG), 4-2. 132: Jared Flynn (O) d. Hunter Queen (NWD) 6-4. 138: Cameron Brewer (CH) d. Chris Jaeger (CC) 6-5. 145: Trent Tanner (O) d. Carson Dean (LR) 8-2. 152: Melik Jimenez (O) won by inj. def. by Rodney VandeWalker (CC). 160: Michael Lines (Clayton) d. Josh Clark (O) 3-2. 170: Jonathan Woodbury (M) d. Graham Jones (CC) 6-3. 182: Jon Smith (NWG) d. John Dunning (NWD), 8-3. 195: Demazio Samuel, (NDR) md. Hunter Blackmon (NWD), 14-4. 220: Matt Allen (Person) won by inj. def. by Logan Cox (SSS). 285: Quintavian Baynes (M) d. Jack Dalton (NWD), 2-1.