Feel Good Friday: Tarboro’s Dupree competes in two state titles days apart

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TARBORO, N.C. (WNCT) — Playing for a state title can be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. But for one athlete at Tarboro High School, he got two opportunities within a week of each other to reel in some hardware.

“It’s just kind of special because I have never really heard of anybody else being able to do that,” said Layton Dupree, a Tarboro football and golf standout.

Dupree, a junior, shined on the gridiron as he represented the Vikings, alongside his teammates for a Class 1-AA state football title. On May 8, Tarboro won its seventh state championship with a 25-7 win over East Surry.

“It was just kind of a magical feeling because we lost to the same team last year and just to come back and beat them felt really nice,” said Dupree.

The winning feeling didn’t stop there. One day after Tarboro claimed its football state title, Dupree was out putting in extra work, this time for a different sport.

“Well, he can honestly say it’s not something that happens every day. He handled it well. He went and played a practice round of golf on Sunday and kind of got used to the course,” said Jamie Willoughby, Tarboro athletic director and golf head coach.

Just 48 hours after the Vikings won their state title for football, Dupree was back on the golf course representing the school again, this time for a Class 1-A title in golf.

“He’s got a tremendous work ethic, and whatever sport he is in at that time, he is going to give it everything he’s got,” said Jeff Craddock, Tarboro football head coach. “I mean, he’s a competitor. That’s what you want and you know, that’s just the type of kid he has always been.” 

2021 was the first time Dupree ever golfed competitively. In his first season, he qualified for the state competition after he shot 13-over 85 in the East Regional.

“I was excited for him,” Craddock said. “You know, Coach Willoughby, we talked about it in the morning cause she was keeping me posted on regionals. Obviously, we had our own business to take care of first, but she was keeping me updated throughout the morning on Monday and it was kind of cool to follow him.

“He wishes he could have done a little better, but at the end of the day it’s a tremendous accomplishment either way.” 

Dupree’s success is something both Craddock and Willoughby contribute to his drive and determination.

“He is a very tough competitor. He’s hard on himself,” Willoughby said. “That drive I think, like everything else, motivated him to do well and you know, we submitted his scores for Regionals and wasn’t quite sure how he would stack up.

“He finished top four in regionals and got a chance to qualify for the state championship in golf so he had a busy weekend ahead of him [laughs].” 

Dupree tied for 39th in the state on Monday. It’s something the new golfer is proud of considering it’s only his first season playing.

“It wasn’t one of my best days, but we all have off days and it just happened to be one of them,” said Dupree. “Hopefully I can do better next year. I’ve only been playing for three months.”

Competing for two state titles within a week of each other is something not many athletes can say they have done. But, Dupree can proudly check it off his bucket list.

“It’s just a good time to be a Viking,” said Willoughby.

The kicker here, football and golf are not even his favorite sports. Dupree wears many uniforms for the Vikings, including one for swimming, soccer and basketball.

But his favorite is baseball. He one day hopes to pursue the sport in the future.

“I am really hoping for baseball. It’s my favorite sport. I have played it since I was four,” said Dupree. “Any sport would be good obviously, but baseball is my number one.” 

One thing is for sure, Dupree is an athlete. His will to work hard and manage his time his going to carry him far regardless of his future athletic career.

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