Palm Bay’s Caylor Williams Was Four-Time U.S. World Team Member, Armed Services Champion
By Space Coast Daily // April 4, 2020
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Williams went 50-0, won state championship senior prep season
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2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – If not for a little smack talk from one of his buddies on the Palm Bay High School football team, Caylor Williams may have never stepped on a wrestling mat.
“You think football is hard?” Francisco Grullon told Williams in 2005. “Wrestling is way harder. You wouldn’t last one day at a wrestling practice.”
Williams accepted Grullon’s challenge, and he immediately learned precisely what his buddy was talking about. There were times – “a million times” – that Williams wanted to quit wrestling that first season.
During his first year of competitive wrestling, as a freshman at Palm Bay High School, Williams was thrust into the starting lineup at 171 pounds.
His instructions from fellow 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee, coach Sean Ballard were straightforward each time he went out onto the mat.
“You know your job,” Ballard said. “Don’t get pinned.”
As you might expect, Williams had trouble not getting pinned that first season. Facing older and much more experienced opponents in one of the heavier weight classes, he stepped onto the mat 24 times that season.
He was pinned 22 times. He didn’t win a single match he competed in.
But Williams stuck with it. The guy who couldn’t win a match as a freshman didn’t lose as a senior. He went 50-0 and won a Florida state championship in his final prep season.
The remarkable transformation of Williams continued as he then landed a spot on the U.S. World Team in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Still relatively inexperienced on the Senior level against international opponents, Williams didn’t shy away from setting lofty goals as he represented the USA in the 211.5-pound class at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
“I want to win a World title,” Williams said. “That’s the goal. My focus is on being the best. I want to be No. 1.”
The goals Williams sets now have changed dramatically since his rude introduction to wrestling as a prep freshman.
“It was a terrible experience – not being any good and losing all of those matches,” he said. “A lot of guys would have walked away after getting their butt kicked like that. I had never encountered anything that difficult. There were a million times I wanted to quit.
“I eventually started setting little, little tiny goals like not getting pinned or just trying to get one takedown in a match. I kept working and tried to stay positive. Gradually, I started to get better.”
Williams continued to wrestle and train that summer and made significant improvements in his sophomore season in high school. He finished with a record just under .500.
“Coach Ballard stuck with me and pushed me,” Williams said. “His coaching was a balance of being supportive and being hard on me. The program didn’t have much of a legacy – a lot of the wrestlers were brand new to the sport like I was.”
Williams made another big jump his junior season as a Pirate, finishing third at the state tournament before capturing a state title as a senior.
“I actually felt like the state title was overdue because I thought I should’ve won it the year before,” Williams said. “It was a great feeling to see how far I had come. I was floating on air when I won a state title.”
He accepted a college scholarship offer from past U.S. World Team Greco-Roman wrestler Jason Loukides at North Carolina-Greensboro, an NCAA Division I school.
Williams earned a spot in the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman during the 2010-11 season, earning Southern Conference Freshman of the Year honors while qualifying for the NCAA Championships in Philadelphia.
Just three days before the start of the NCAA tournament, the UNC-Greensboro team was called into a meeting with Athletic Director Kim Record. It was announced the school was dropping wrestling.
Instead of transferring, Williams and a number of his teammates elected to stay at UNC-Greensboro and Loukides offered to continue to coach wrestlers in Greco-Roman wrestling. Williams chose to stay in Greensboro with Loukides and the YES Wrestling Club.
He jumped onto the Senior circuit in Greco-Roman wrestling and made a quick impact. He placed third in the New York AC International in 2011 before winning the event in 2012.
Williams at the age of 22 in 2013, became an E-4 with the Colorado Army National Guard and brought that resilience to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program after graduating from UNCG.
William’s career highlights include four-time U.S. World Team member, two-time U.S. Open champion (2014, 2015), 2016 Armed Forces champion, 2012 University World Team member and 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials runner-up.
– Craig Sesker of USA Wrestling contributed to this report
THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 8.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.
The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards will be held Friday, May 8 at the Cocoa Beach Country Club.
The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty beginning at 6 p.m., and the dinner and induction proceeding will start at 6:45 p.m. and includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2020 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Health First, Erdman Automotive, All Points, Clear Choice Health Care, Savings Safari, Friday Night Locker Room and Rock Paper Simple.
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame includes an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.
Dozens of nominees were considered in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and has so far inducted more than 160 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison and Amateur Athletic Union Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of inductees for 2020 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2020
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jamel Dean, Football; Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Wrestling; Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Football; Mark Lake, Skateboarding; Juwaan Taylor, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Derek Hamm, Football; Paulette King, Basketball; Dylan Lewis, Soccer; Melanie Murphy, Softball
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lexy Denaburg, Volleyball; Apryl Bigham Nickson, Swimming; Andi Sellers, Soccer
• AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Peter Blount, Track & Field; Karina Villegas, Sled Hockey; Caylor Williams, Wrestling
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Sean Ballard, Wrestling; Doug Butler, Cross County and Track; Aubin Goporo, Basketball; Gerald Hodgin, Football; Bill Sinclair, Softball; Don Smith, Basketball
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Loren McClanahan
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Clint Hurdle
• SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEES: Ted Ruta
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Steve Vaughn
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Congressman Bill Posey
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: 2019 Satellite High Cross Country
• LEGACY CHAMPIONS: TBA
• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: TBA
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