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A healthy Catoe ready to start over at Coker

Posted: May 11, 2017 12:01 p.m.
Updated: May 12, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

L-E SENIOR TAYLOR CATOE signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and wrestling pursuits at Coker College while flanked by his parents, Ronnie and Renee Catoe, and his girlfiend, Rachel Erickson. Looking on from behind, from left, are L-E athletic director Matt Campbell, L-E head wrestling coach Ted Monroe and L-E principal Worth Thomasson.

Sometimes, what you take for granted becomes even more important once it is taken from you.

For Taylor Catoe, it took a broken leg early in his senior season for him to realize how wrestling figured into his life.

In the long weeks the Lugoff-Elgin senior was away from the mat, his goal was to make sure his final high school campaign was not a total washout. Toward the end of the Demons’ season, Catoe was back and as good as new in helping Ted Monroe’s charges to a second place finish in the 4A Upper State tournament. Catoe capped off an injury-plagued 21-4 campaign by finishing second in the 4A state individual championships.

Colleges noticed Catoe’s will to win and all the hard work he put in to making it back onto the wrestling mat. When it came time for the 160-pounder to choose where he would spend his college days, he signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his studies and wrestling at Coker College.

It was a long, hard road which Catoe was forced to travel. In the end, though, he said it gave him a greater appreciation for the sport which he loves and one which he was bound and determined to compete in again for the Demons.

“I broke my leg and was out for six weeks,” Catoe said of an inauspicious start to his final high school season. “At the beginning, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to return and it made me appreciate wrestling as a sport and what it has given to me. Then, when I came back, I put in as much work as I possibly could to be as successful as possible.”

Monroe, who coached Catoe for two years at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School and for Catoe’s final two high school seasons, said his former wrestler all but described himself with the words work and success.

“I had the privilege of coaching Taylor for two years in middle school and it didn’t take long to recognize that, first of all, he comes from a really good family. He’s been brought up the right way,” Monroe said.

“He was a great fit into our middle school program, right away. He was one of those kids who recognized that it takes doing the little things. He was not afraid to put in a little extra work when it needed to be done and that is what it was going to take to make him in to the top young man and the wrestler that he was going to become.”

Catoe, a three-time region individual and two-time Lower State champion, was one of four signees for Cobra head coach Michael Baxter’s program. 

“I am very excited about this group of newcomers. These four wrestlers, from South Carolina and Georgia, were raised in households that put a premium on character and values, which is the foundation upon which we are building this program,” Baxter said. “These young men have had success both on the wrestling mat and in the classroom. As last year’s class did, this group will come in make an immediate impact on our team.”

Catoe’s signing came after his official visit to Coker’s Hartsville campus. It did not take Catoe long to figure out that he found the right fit for his college home.

“The school is pretty small and everybody there is nice,” he said of his decision to attend Coker. “I feel like I know everybody there even though I’ve never met them before.”

For Monroe, Catoe’s signing ceremony was six years in the making for someone who coached the newest Coker signee in all but two seasons since Catoe began wrestling in the seventh grade.

“I definitely thought Taylor had the potential,” Monroe said of thinking that Catoe had what it took to be successful in high school wrestling and, beyond. “You see a handful of young men who have that. It’s just a matter of whether or not that they want to take that skill set, develop it and become successful at the next level. Taylor certainly did that.”

Catoe will bring a 118-29 high school record to him when he gets to Coker. He will also drop weight to wrestle in either the 141- or, 149-pound weight division. 

For some wrestlers who are used to being involved in high scoring high school matches or, being on the winning end of pins, they find out both are hard to come by in the college ranks in which points and pins are at a premium. That, Catoe said, is all well and good as far as he is concerned.

“It’s going to make me be more aggressive,” he said of the transition into collegiate wrestling. “Normally, I don’t score that many points in a match. I definitely have to step my game up.”

One trait which Catoe brings to the table is being a good listener who can put instructions into action on the mat. That, Monroe said, can, oftetime, separate the good wrestler from the average ones.

 “One thing Taylor’s going to do,” he said, “is to do what Taylor has do in order to be successful. He’s coachable. He’s going to listen and he’s going to pay attention to what the coaches are telling him. He’ll continue to do all those little things.

“It’s a pretty big jump when you go from middle school to high school. He’ll also find that there’s another jump in going from high school to college wrestling. I have no doubt that Taylor’s going to do whatever it takes, both in and out of the classroom, as well as on and off the mat to make all those things happen.”

An honor roll student at L-E, Catoe knows things will be ramped up once he gets to Coker both on and off the mat. “The competition is a lot better in college,” he said. “You’re not going to wrestle people who are below your level and you’re always going to be wrestling somebody who has the same skill set and mindset as you and they want to win just as badly as you do.”

Another difference in the college game is that workout and practices can come at some unusual hours. Preparing himself for that part of wrestling is something which Taylor Catoe is already working on so that as a freshman, he will not be blindsided.

 “In college,” he said, “we’re going to have workouts in the morning which we don’t normally have here in high school. Then, we’ll have practice after class every day.

“I’m definitely ready for all of that. I’m getting ready for it, right now.”

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