Injuries are a part of every sport, especially in wrestling with its grueling, physical nature, and they can be hard to deal with for those experiencing them.
The cruelest injuries are season-ending ones that happen right before the postseason, and three talented area wrestlers will have to sit out as they watch their teammates compete this season.
Tyrone 182-pounder Jared Beckwith and 195-pounder D.J. Wunder will miss the District 6 Class AA Tournament this week, and Philipsburg-Osceola 106-pounder Chris Thompson will miss the Class AAA Tournament in two weeks.
Beckwith is still recovering from the Jan. 24 automobile accident that injured his kidney, and he still hasn't been cleared. The seeding meeting is tonight, and the tournament begins Friday morning. His workout partner, Wunder, has come down with impetigo, or infantigo as it also called, a skin disease that's caused him to miss last Tuesday's Penns Valley match and the Juniata Valley Tournament.
Thompson suffered a meniscus tear in his knee joint last Tuesday in the Clearfield dual meet, and he had surgery on Thursday to repair the injury.
Beckwith, a returning state qualifier who was 15-2, and Thompson, who was 19-3, including the injury default at Clearfield, are juniors, so they can return next season. But Wunder (21-4) is a senior, so his high school career is done. When I talked to him a couple weeks ago for a story, he seemed like a genuinely nice kid, and I was hoping he'd have postseason success.
"Losing both is a blow to the team as a whole," Tyrone coach Blair Packer said. "It's something that couldn't be helped. This was D.J.'s last hurrah, and he's not going to be able to do it. I know Jared's goal is to place in states. He's able to come back next year, but it's not going to happen for D.J.
"I'm constantly reminding kids that there are no guarantees in life. These are just two situations among all the situations that kids are going to experience in their lives. I've had kids get the flu at the wrong time of the year. Other kids across the state get injured. It's a life experience."
P-O coach Tim McCamley says Thompson will probably have to rehab the knee for about four months, and he will be back next season, but the injury is a stunner.
"You feel for the guy because he's put so much time and effort in for not only in the last few months, but also in the last couple years," McCamley said. "It's a pretty big blow to take. It's part of the game, but it's something you don't want to talk about.
"The only saving grace is he's not a senior. Hopefully, he can come back bigger, better and hungrier than ever. They expect him to get back at it after rehab."
P-O has been hit hard with injuries the last half of the season - it appears that senior 145-pounder Justin Millard (hyperextended elbow) will miss districts - and will have a vastly different lineup for tonight's match at Northern Bedford.
"All of our injuries have happened during matches and not practice," McCamley said.
Some wrestlers across the district and the state will wrap up or brace the injury they have and wrestle, but these ones are different.
"Sometimes kids wrestle with pain, but there are extenuating circumstances with Jared and D.J.," Packer said. "Ten years from now, I can say I can live without Jared wrestling in districts."
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.