Iowa High School Wrestler Dies After Collapsing During Match

| by Jordan Smith
Austin RobertsAustin Roberts

An 18-year-old wrestler at an Iowa high school died Dec. 19 after collapsing during a championship match.

Austin Roberts was competing against Ko Kieft for the championship when he asked for injury time during the third period, the Sioux City Journal reported.

“With about 30 seconds left in the match we ran out of bounds and then came back in to reset,” Kieft’s coach Aaron Schmidt told the Sioux City Journal. “The score was tied and we were on bottom and got set and he went to get on top of us and asked for injury time.”

“It seemed like he was not quite able to catch his breath ... it wasn't anything that was alarming or anything serious at that point,” he added.

But Roberts could not continue the match, and collapsed on the mat a short time later.

“That’s the hard part. He has never had any warning signs. We don’t understand what happened,” Roberts’ father told NBC. “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.”

The senior, who also played on the offensive and defensive line for Spencer High School’s football team, was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead around 9 p.m.

Jim Tighe, the school’s head football coach, explained how friends and family gathered at the hospital.

“There had to be over 100 kids,” he told the Sioux City Journal.

After Roberts’ death was announced, friends and family gathered at a local church.

“They wanted to stay together, for him,” Tighe added. “There are so many people who care about him.”

The school announced that a wrestling competition scheduled for Dec. 20 was canceled as a mark of respect.

Spencer High was to open as normal Dec. 21 and 22, but promised to have additional counselors available in case students needed to talk in the wake of Roberts’ death.

A GoFundMe page set up to support the family reached its goal of $10,000 within a few hours and more than $48,000 by Dec. 25.

A date for Roberts’ funeral has not been confirmed.

Sources: Sioux City Journal, NBC / Photo credit: Sioux City Journal