[The following article was submitted by Robert Powell and Rik Taylor.]
Sean Taylor ended a historic high school wrestling career in fairy tale fashion last weekend. Ranked sixth in Division 3 at the beginning of the season, the Marblehead heavyweight made it to 49th Annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships, and made it to the “Quarter-Finals top eight” before being handed a loss by the eventual fourth place finisher.
It was not enough for a medal, but it was more than enough for the Marblehead senior who began wrestling in sixth grade.
Taylor, a co-captain of the Swampscott-Marblehead wrestling team, steamrolled through his first two matches at the New England tournament. In his first match, he pinned John Ware of Manchester West, the number three seed from New Hampshire, in the first period at the 1:02-minute mark. At the time, it was the sixth fastest pin of the tournament.
And then, in his second match, those who were there to witness it said he “destroyed” Wolfgang Fiasconaro, the Connecticut state champion. The score was 7-2 with nine seconds left in the third period when Fiasconaro left the bout with an "injury."
“Both of these Friday night matches, something clicked with Sean. They were both dominant, and the match against the Connecticut State Champ was the best match of his career, bar none," said coach Michael Stamison. "The kid couldn’t execute against Sean, and got very frustrated to put it mildly. Just goes to show what a great wrestler Sean has become, and how Massachusetts wrestlers fare against the best from other New England States."
"Huge upset, but then, we were playing with house money; Sean made it in as an alternate, and certainly made some noise Friday. We were not going to be satisfied with just being in the gym," said Stamison.
In his third match, the championship quarterfinal, Taylor lost 5-1 against Donovan Lozada of Chicopee, the number two seed from Mass. and eventual fourth place finisher. The match was much closer than the score indicated as Taylor, at one point, had his opponent on his back but couldn’t control a pin. Taylor had previously wrestled against Lozada at the MIIA All-States, losing by a score of just 3-0.
“Against Lozada, that kid is simply a force. We made the right decision in starting him down, hoping for a sloppy move by Lozada, but it never came. He’s obviously a great wrestler in his own right, I’m disappointed they’ll never get the chance to wrestle again,” said Stamison.
After a supreme effort for the entire match, it was apparent Taylor had worn himself out. In his fourth match, Taylor faced Aaron Lint, Maine’s heavyweight champion and got pinned at the 53-second mark of the first period.
“Like I said, as an alternate and just being happy to be there, we were ecstatic. When you get to this level, these are all kids who know how to win, and Lint was certainly one of them. He caught Sean in what I deemed a perfect head and arm, and Sean was airborne for what seemed like a minute," said Stamison. "Ever the sportsman though, he got up, shook Lint’s hand, ran over to Lint’s coaches and shook their hands, and came over to me."
"It was sad, having a career end like that, but honestly, I don’t think Sean is or should be upset. He was certainly the most accomplished wrestler to ever come out of Marblehead. In joking around with Sean’s parents and grandparents, I asked them the last time they remembered picking Sean up. At 270 lbs, it doesn’t happen a lot now, and hasn't happened in awhile," he said.
“Sean, from the time we met, has always been respectful and kind, to me, my staff, his teammates and even his competition and their parents. Everyone is on a first name basis with Sean, and while he was a force for three years, I think he’ll most be remembered by coaches and wrestlers from around here as just a good kid. I’ll miss him, and I’ll miss having his family’s support. They’ve all been a pleasure to work with,” said Stamison, who is in his fourth year as coach.
Taylor earned the right to wrestle at the New England tournament by placing 7th at the 2013 MIAA All-State Championship held on Feb. 22-23.
Taylor finished his high school career with a record of 88-29 (in 2½ years of wrestling), 91-31 with his Bay State Games appearance.
Over the course of his career, in addition to making it to the New England High School Wrestling Championship’s “Quarter-Finals” he placed 7th at the 2013 MIIA All-State tournament, he placed 1st twice at the 2013 and the 2012 Division 3 North sectionals and 2nd at the 2011 Division 3 North Sectionals. He placed 6th in the 2013 Division 3 state tournament.
He was also a three time Northeastern Conference All-Star -- in 2011, 2012 and 2013; he was the CAL/NEC’s best heavyweight wrestler once and 2nd twice. He was ranked as high as second in the state during his junior year prior to missing six weeks of the season. He was also a 4th place finisher at the 2011 Bay State Games.
Taylor was a two-time Salem News wrestling All-Star. In various tournaments, he placed 1st four times, 2nd four times, 3rd five times, and 4th one time. His career record against divisional top 10 ranked wrestlers from all six New England states was 50-24. His tournament record was 60-27.
Taylor is the first Marblehead wrestler to make it to All-States and the first Marblehead/Swampscott “Black & Blue” team member to ever wrestle at the New England Championships.
“It’s been such a pleasure to wrestle on the Black & Blue team. I wish I had more time to help get the newer wrestlers ready for next season," Taylor said. "I’m filled with pride when thinking about how well the team did this season. I’ll miss my friends, co-captain Jake Powell and Coach Mike, and I’ll never forget my career with the Black and Blue.”
Says his father Rik: “What a year! What a career!”
~ Robert Powell