LEXINGTON, Ky. – A year after leaving the State Wrestling Championships with an illness that nearly killed him, Damoreon Travis left Saturday night with an historic victory for Moore (Louisville) High School.
Travis defeated Meade County junior Bryan Pratt 5-1 in the final of the 220-pound weight class, capping a remarkable 41-3 season and giving Moore the first state champion in program history.
“It feels good to make history for Moore,” Travis said.
It’s difficult to imagine any of Saturday’s 14 individual champions having a more dramatic story than Travis.
As a junior at Jeffersontown last year, Travis was the Region Four runner-up at 195 pounds. But after the regionals he caught MRSA – a bacteria that leads to many difficult-to-treat infections – and withdrew from the state tournament. He decided to attend the event to support a teammate, “but he couldn’t even stay awake,” Moore assistant coach Dean Wilkins said.
Finally, Travis was taken to a hospital.
“They said if we hadn’t got him there that day that he would have died,” Wilkins said. “It was that serious.”
Travis spent a month in the hospital after developing a boil on the right side of his body.
“The whole side of my body swelled up,” Travis said. “It hurts. It’s a lot of pain. It was killing me.”
Travis said he returned to health last summer and transferred to Moore after J’town scrapped its wrestling program. He played football for the Mustangs in the fall, recording 37 tackles and catching a touchdown pass.
But wrestling is Travis’ true love, and he has plans to continue with the sport in college. Moore’s coaches said Travis was a different wrestler after overcoming his illness.
“He took everything more serious,” Wilkins said. “He was just an athlete before. This year he’s a wrestler. He took his training seriously. He took his technique seriously. The kid wakes up a 4 o’clock in the morning before school just to work out.”
Moore head coach Mike Thomas said the first state title was “huge for our school.”
“Hopefully we can keep it going,” said Thomas, whose team finished in 10th place with 85.5 points. “We’ve been building our program for years and trying to get over that hump. Hopefully this will help us. …
“I’ve had other kids who were just as good but didn’t win the state championship. No doubt he’ll go down as one of the best we’ve had.”