Local News

Campbell University Officials Dealing with Questions, Grief After Student's Death

Posted November 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Officials at Campbell University have a long list of questions to ponder after the shocking death of a student wrestler Friday morning. The 19-year-old freshman wrestler died in the early morning hours Friday, of an apparent heart attack.

Police said it appears he was working around the clock to lose weight before the weigh-in of a big match with West Point, a practice that is apparently not uncommon among wrestlers.

Police say Billy Jack Saylor, was working out with an assistant coach and another student early Friday just before Saylor collapsed.

Saylor was a champion high school wrestler in his hometown of Wellborn, Fla., and had hopes of continuing his success at Campbell. A school spokesperson said, as far as anyone at the school knew, Saylor had no history of heart problems.

Speaking for Campbell, Benny Pearce said Saylor was in good health and had passed a physical examination in order to compete on the wrestling team.

Campbell freshman Kellee Church says she will remember Saylor as a nice person.

Some say they feel it was Saylor's drive to be the best that caused his death. Student athlete Katie Karalunas says wrestlers often starve themselves and work out too much in order to qualify for certain weight classes.

Senior Matt Drain says Campbell is a small school, and an occurrence like this affects everyone.

Counselors were on campus Friday to help students cope with their shock and grief.

The school will hold a memorial service next Thursday at 11 a.m.

A medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Photographer:Joe Frieda