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HOLIDAY CLASSIC: Palo Verde’s Bigelow wins 154-pound title

After partially tearing his rotator cuff a little more than a month ago, Palo Verde’s William Bigelow fought back with a vengeance to return to wrestling mode.

The junior made the most of his first return to tournament action, as he was crowned champion of the 154-pound division Saturday at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Bigelow, who is receiving interest from Duke, was the only Nevada wrestler to win a weight class in a field of 66 teams.

“It feels good to represent Nevada,” said Bigelow after improving his record to 9-0 on the year. “I feel really good. I feel like I put in a lot of work and overcame a lot of adversity with a messed up shoulder. This is my first real tournament since my shoulder (injury). I wrestled a little — three dual meets — (but) we’ve had three events that I just didn’t go to.”

Bigelow beat Colby Wilson from Tulsa Union (Okla.), 5-2 in the title match, which prompted his opponent to storm off the mats.

“I guess he’s pretty well-known in Oklahoma, but he got a little taste of Vegas wrestling,” Bigelow said. “He’s a strong kid. I just knew I had to wrestle smart. He kind of came in, I think, thinking he was going to win. I knew he was going to make a mistake here or there.”

After taking a 4-1 lead in the first period, Bigelow maintained control the entire second period and held strong in the third.

“Billy is strong,” Palo Verde coach Scott Nemchek said. “He’s worked really hard on the weights in the offseason, and he hits a lot of power moves. I think the power move he hit in the first period with the tilt really got him the points he needed for the win.”

Palo Verde’s Kayden Pierson placed second at 147 points, and Michael Tim finished fifth at 132 pounds to help Palo Verde to 13th place overall in the tournament.

Even though Pierson fell short in his championship, he was still happy with his tournament performance and for his friend.

“He (Bigelow) is the other captain of the team,” Pierson said. “It means a lot to all those kids that were standing on the side, sitting and watching their captains come in the top two. These are some good wrestlers (in the tournament).”

Nemchek also was happy with the way Bigelow and Pierson performed against top-tier national talent.

“They work really hard,” Nemchek said. “They bring up the level of wrestling in the room five notches, and it really carries the team well. I think the younger guys are picking up a lot from them.”

The Panthers, who scored 122.5 points, finished as the top local school. MacArthur (Okla.) won the event with 307 points. Holy Cross (La.) was second with 261.5.

Shadow Ridge was close behind Palo Verde with 120 points. Spring Valley took 16th with 105.5

“Nevada wrestling is really strong right now,” Nemchek said. “I think all the teams here performed really, really well. We just had three individuals that happened to carry us. Certainly the guys that are wrestling well right now will have a lot of confidence (going forward).”

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