According to school officials, a high school wrestler in Iowa died Saturday, Dec. 19 after collapsing on the mat during the Tiger’s home invitational.
Spencer High School senior Austin Roberts was pronounced dead at Spencer Hospital shortly after collapsing in the middle of the school’s invitational wrestling tournament, the school district said in a statement.
“There was about 30 seconds left and the score was tied and they went out of bounds,” Sioux Center coach Aaron Schmidt told USA Today. “We came back to the center to get reset and we got set and the Roberts boy asked for injury time and couldn’t seem to quite catch his breath.
“Then injury time was up and there was a good, classy exchange at the end of the match and we were hoping he was all right. At that point, he seemed to just be unable to catch his breath.”
According to Schmidt it was a clean and competitive match between the two seniors. The Sioux Center Coach also noted that nothing unusual occurred during the match that would have set off alarms about Roberts’ physical well-being.
“That’s the hard part. He has never had any warning signs. We don’t understand what happened,” Roberts’ father told NBC News. “One minute he was competing for the championship and was doing fine. The third period started and he just went down and never got back up.”
“Anyone that knew him loved him. He was headed for greatness,” Roberts continued.
Spencer High school opened on Sunday for grief counseling.
“This is a time for grieving and providing support for Austin’s family, the wrestling team family, our school system, and the entire community of Spencer,” said Spencer Community Schools’ superintendent Terry Hemann.
According to a post on the district’s Facebook page posted on Friday, Spencer High School was named a Varsity Safe Sports School by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Spencer is one of only three schools in Iowa to earn this distinction.
The Spencer Wrestling team’s Facebook page also announced that the youth wrestling tournament (preschool through eighth grade) scheduled this Sunday has been canceled.
According to NBC affiliate KTIV, Roberts placed eighth at the Class 2A state tournament last year.
Earlier this month in an interview with the Sioux City Journal, Roberts said that placing in the states was “amazing” and that he would like to qualify again because “I want to do better, I can do better, I want to be the best.”
In an effort to help Roberts’ family with medical and funeral expenses, the Spencer Tailtwisters are sponsoring a GoFundMe page, which has already raised up to $25,000.
[Image via Spencer Tiger Wrestling/Facebook]