Win and your team wins. Lose and your team loses.
That's the situation Rory Nixon faced twice last weekend at the Virginia Duals. As he strode onto the mat in the quarterfinals, then in the third-place match, a victory — any kind of victory — meant the Crabbers would win.
"I liked that part, being the last match," said Nixon, who competed in the 285-pound weight class. "Knowing it comes down to me."
Nixon didn't disappoint.
Against Hickory in the semifinals, Hampton trailed 27-26 going into his match. Nixon dominated his opponent from start to finish, winning a 19-8 major decision and giving his team a 30-27 victory.
Then against Ocean Lakes in the third-place match, the teams were tied at 24 following the 215-pounders. Nixon attacked from the start, taking only 1 minute, 23 seconds for the clinching pin and a 30-24 victory.
"He loves it. He lives for the moment," Hampton coach Ron McRae said. "Like football, he likes fourth down and 3, where he's gotta push the nose guard back."
Nixon was the center on Hampton's football team, and he'll likely go off to college on a football scholarship next year. He's also a weight guy on the track team and wrestled both his freshman and sophomore years before taking last year off.
"Last year, we had a heavyweight, Anthony Battle, and I knew I wasn't going to start," Nixon said. "I was already pretty good in track, and I wasn't pursuing a wrestling career in college."
So he concentrated on the shot and discus during last winter's indoor track season, and could only watch as the Crabbers won the Peninsula District wrestling championship.
"It was (tough to watch), because I wish I would have been part of it," he said, "but I wasn't mad because I made the choice not to wrestle."
Said McRae: "I asked him to wrestle last year, but between track and football, he's pretty busy. He made a commitment this year to shot put and wrestle. He's probably going to go to school for football, but he's a good wrestler, too."
That Nixon was in position to be the Crabber hero came because of the Virginia Duals format.
In regular-season dual meets, a blind draw determines which weight class begins the match. If the 135-pounders start, the order of matches goes up to 285, then starts at 103 before finishing at 130.
In the duals, the 103-pound wrestlers began first, and the 285-pounders finish, putting Nixon on center stage.
He is quick to deflect credit.
"Nick Sapp at 152 and Sterling Perry at 135, they put us in a position to win. They're the leaders on the team. I'm following their example," he said. "They go out and win matches, and that gets me motivated. All the way through from Chauncey (Foster) at 103. I see them win, and I don't want to let them down."
Nixon is humble.
"The night after the match (against Ocean Lakes) I called him and congratulated him on the win and thanked him for all the hard work." McRae said. "He threw it right back at me and said, 'No, I owe the team for putting me in a position to win.' "