NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, December 21, 2015, 8:12 AM
A high school wrestler in Iowa collapsed during a weekend tournament and died, stunning his family and friends.
Austin Roberts, a senior at Spencer High School, wrestled at the 220 weight class. He fell to the mat after a stoppage in action during his match against Sioux Center’s Ko Kieft at the Spencer Invitational, a tournament hosted by Roberts’ school. It’s unclear what caused him to collapse.
Sioux Center coach Aaron Schmidt said Roberts asked for injury time before his collapse, unable to catch his breath. Schmidt didn’t see anything out of the ordinary during the match.
“Not a single thing,” Schmidt told the Des Moines Register. “No slam, no hit heads, nothing. It was about as clean and classy as can be. It was one of those matches people would’ve continued to watch at the state tournament if it had been down there.”
Roberts had been ranked sixth in the state in his weight class in a recent class 3A poll. He made his first appearance in last year’s state wrestling tournament, finishing in eighth place.
The 18-year-old was also an offensive and defensive lineman for Spencer’s football team.
Spencer’s wrestling coaches released a statement following Roberts’ death, calling him a “larger than life character.”
“He had a large heart with a personality that could light up the room,” the coaches said. “We have had the great opportunity to watch Austin grow in recent years from a young child to mature young adult. His attitude about wrestling and football was second only to his attitude about life.
“Through wrestling we saw his personality change from a shy, quiet kid into a confident, outgoing person, who others on the team and in the school could look up to.”
His father said his son had never collapsed before.
“That’s the hard part. He has never had any warning signs. We don’t understand what happened,” the 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.”
Roberts’ friends gathered at the hospital where Roberts was being treated, and later visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church to mourn his death.
Roberts had been considering attending Iowa Central Community College — where he could continue wrestling and playing football, according to the Sioux City Journal. He had begun wrestling in seventh grade, and was looking forward to reaching states again.
“There is still a feeling that you want to get back because state was amazing, but it is more like I want to do better, I can do better, I want to be the best,” he said in a recent interview.