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    Will Saylor, Laurel High School Wrestling

    Publisher, Sussex County Online

    Photos: Will Saylor finishes a pin to clinch Laurel's win (above) and squares off with Milford's Thomas Drummond.

    LAUREL -- Will Saylor may already have a state championship to his credit, but for the 125-pound Laurel High School junior, winning a wrestling championship with his team ranks right up there.

    Saylor pinned Milford's Thomas Drummond in 3:30 in the final match of the night on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003, to give the Bulldogs their first Henlopen Conference Southern Division championship in 20 years and their first berth ever in the Delaware Division II dual meet wrestling tournament.

    Will Saylor, Laurel High School WrestlingSaylor's fall in the 125-pound bout lifted the Bulldogs to a 33-27 victory over visiting Milford and ended a title drought that goes back to 1983, to before the state instituted its dual meet state tournament.

    "This is pretty much the same," said Saylor later, asked to compare his pin for the Southern Division title to his state championship as a freshman 103-pounder at Indian River in 2001.

    "It feels the same way, but this is a little more special because we can share it as a team."

    Laurel head coach Tom Pavia knew he couldn't have been sending a better wrestler onto the mat in such a tense situation.

    Besides his state championship two years ago, Saylor finished third in the state last year at 119 and wrestled on Team Delaware last summer. He's the second-ranked wrestler in the state at 125.

    So, with the score tied 27-27, with the outcome of the dual meet in the balance, with the outcome of a Bulldog championship in the balance, and with the possibility of a state tournament berth in the balance, few Bulldogs were better prepared for such a moment than Saylor.

    "I would say I was cautiously confident," said Pavia of his thoughts when Saylor walked onto the mat. "You never know what can happen in a big match. Will could get tied up and go for a big move and get caught. I wasn't sitting back with my heels kicked up.

    "But way a way to win it (on a pin). A lot of times you wrestle not to lose in that situation. It can be tough in that situation when you're favored. Will doesn't maul every kid he wrestles. He's very patient. When he saw the opportunity (for the pin), he took it."

    Saylor calls the move he used to pin Drummond the "Big Cookie".

    "I knew it wasn't going to be pushover match," said Saylor. "I just had to keep the task ahead in mind. I had to pull it off for the team. I knew I had plenty of time. I just had to work it and work it. I just kept pushing until I got the pin."

    While the Bulldogs still have a regular season dual meet against Sussex Central remaining and conference and state tournaments on the horizon, the Southern Division championship couldn't have been sweeter for Saylor.

    Despite his success in his freshman and sophomore years at Indian River, Saylor never had the same feeling he has with his teammates at Laurel as the Indians struggled to field full lineups night after night.

    That changed this year, though, when the Saylors moved from the Indian River School District to the Laurel School District.

    The move not only benefitted Will and his brother Marc, a 103-pound freshman for the Bulldogs, it also helped the Laurel program overcome perennial powers like Smyrna and Milford, who combined had won 18 of the last 19 Southern Division titles.

    "They work as hard as we do," said Eston Ennis, the Bulldogs' 215-pounder whose pin tied the dual meet with Milford at 21-21. "They were the next pieces to the puzzle."

    For Saylor, the move has been a perfect fit, as well.

    "It's great," he said. "I love it here. From the beginning, I knew this was something special. I knew we were competitors for the South because we were willing to pay the price. I couldn't be with a better team."

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