Wrestling Star Shines With More Than A Little Help Camden Catholic's Aaron Taylor Has Learned Well From Brother Keith And Ex-teammate Jerry Boland.

Posted: December 26, 1994

Camden Catholic junior Aaron Taylor has developed into one of South Jersey's top lightweight wrestlers with the help of two former area mat stars.

And, before this season is over, Taylor might surpass the career accomplishments of both his mentors.

Taylor, a two-time District 27 champion, had a 30-4 record wrestling at 103 pounds last year. He lost a 4-2 decision to Lenape's Brad Bauer in the Region 7 title bout but won his next three matches and advanced to the state semifinals, where he dropped a 5-2 match to Kittatinny's Roman Fleszar.

Part of Taylor's success last year can be traced to his practice partners - one at school and one at home. At school, Taylor had the advantage of grappling with teammate Jerry Boland, a senior last year who also reached the state semifinals and eventually placed fourth in the state at 112 pounds. Boland finished his career with 73 wins.

At home, Taylor still tangles with his older brother, Keith, an outstanding wrestler at St. Augustine who graduated in 1986 with 83 career victories. Keith Taylor, who competed at James Madison University, is an assistant coach at West Deptford.

"One of the reasons I got into wrestling was because of my older brother," said Aaron Taylor, who has a 58-5 career record, including a 3-0 log this season.

"I went to every match Keith wrestled in high school, and it was very exciting to watch. I decided then that I wanted to do what my big brother did. I still look up to Keith. But, naturally, I want to top what he did."

Boland won the Region 7 title at 112 pounds his sophomore year but moved to California for his junior season. He returned to Camden Catholic last year, just in time to provide Taylor with a rugged practice partner.

Taylor and Boland combined to win 61 bouts last year as the Fighting Irish posted a 15-5 record and won the South Jersey Group A and Olympic Conference National Division titles.

"Jerry and I are very close friends, but on the mat in practice we were like enemies," Taylor said. "It was great, though, because I always had Jerry to push me in practice.

"I also have an outstanding coach in Gary Papa. He's also there to push me, and he's always getting the best of everyone on our team."

Papa, last year's Region 7 coach of the year, says Aaron Taylor has been a dedicated student of the sport.

"Aaron is a very motivated, very goal-oriented athlete and was voted one of our captains by his teammates," Papa said. "From the first time I saw Aaron wrestle I could see the kind of talent he had.

"He is a confident athlete and is very fluid and methodical on the mat. Aaron doesn't make a lot of mistakes and, in that sense, is very much a

college-type wrestler.

"He doesn't give up a lot and is always aware of what is happening. He also knows how to be aggressive when he needs to be."

Taylor also plays varsity soccer and is a centerfielder on Camden Catholic's baseball team. He is also an excellent student and is a member of the National Honor Society.

While his academic interests revolve around the sciences, wrestling is Taylor's favorite athletic endeavor.

"I like wrestling better than soccer and baseball because it is a more demanding sport," Taylor said. "You need more skill, desire and dedication to be a good wrestler, plus you've got to run every night after practice.

"The other thing is that wrestling is not just a team sport. You also have the individual aspect to wrestling, which makes it more interesting than soccer or baseball. I play soccer to stay in shape. Baseball is a more mellow sport than wrestling."

While Taylor's goals this season include another trip to the state tournament, he feels no pressure to duplicate his past performance.

"This is just another wrestling season for me, and I'll try to do the best I can," he said. "I'm glad I got to the state tournament last year, but once I did get there I realized it's just another tournament with a better caliber of wrestler.

"If you don't know what to expect in a tournament, you can get scared and shy away from what you have to do. The mental part of wrestling is a big part of the sport, which is why I'm glad I got to compete in the state tournament last year and see what it was like.

"Now, I'm looking forward to getting back there this season. But I still have a whole season to wrestle first."

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