OXFORD – Two years ago, Oxford freshman Joe Nelson was playing modified basketball. Having never wrestled in his life, Nelson made the switch to a new sport, and the change paid off big time in his first-ever varsity tournament.
Nelson kicked off the finals of the 48th Annual Clyde Cole Tournament with a hometown victory at 96 pounds leading the Blackhawks to a seventh-place finish.
Wyoming Seminary, a private school in Pennsylvania that is among the best programs in the Northeast, dominated the tournament with seven overall champions and 280.5 total points. Queensbury was a distant second with 204.5, and B-G/Afton placed third with 198.5 points to lead all local teams.
Nelson was not only wrestling his first tournament, but in his first varsity matches. After cruising to the finals with two decisive wins, he was taken down and thrown to his back by Chenango Valley’s Billy Liberati early in the opening period.
Nelson bridged his way to the edge of the mat to force a restart, earned an escape, and dominated the rest of the way en route to a 17-8 major decision win. “He’s an extraordinary kid, very bright, and very teachable,” said Oxford volunteer assistant coach, Thad Rice. “He came back strong (after the takedown), kept his head on straight, and controlled the rest of the match. He impressed me.”