Iowa High School Wrestler Forfeits to Honor Opponent Who Died
by Bob James
Just days before Christmas, an Iowa high school wrestler collapsed during a match and died hours later. During the school’s first home dual meet since his passing, an opposing wrestler forfeited his match and drew the adoration of everyone in the gym in the process.
Austin Roberts of Spencer was 14-0 during his senior season when he collapsed during the championship match of the Spencer Tiger Invitational on December 19. He died within hours at Spencer Hospital. Amed Castro-Chavez of Estherville-Lincoln Central High School was on the mat next to Roberts that day. He had lost to Roberts earlier in the season and when the team returned to Spencer last Thursday, there was no one to wrestle Castro-Chavez in the 220-pound weight class. Instead of taking six points for his team due to the forfeit, Amed did something no one was expecting.
Castro-Chavez, with his team trailing 22-3, forfeited. He left his warm-ups on and went to the front row of the bleachers where Austin Roberts’ mom, Lori Roberts (in boots in front row above), and grandfather were seated. Amed told the Sioux City Journal, “I wanted to show Austin’s family respect because they are grieving. I told Austin’s mom that I wished I could wrestle Austin again because he was such a good wrestler.”
The entire crowd at Spencer Field House stood and cheered. Nate Shaughnessy, a columnist for the Spencer Daily Reporter, told the Sioux City Journal, “It’s not often hairs stand on the back of your neck at a high school sporting event… There are touchdowns and dunks and goals, but I’ve never felt anything quite like those few minutes in the Field House.”
When Roberts’ grandpa, Dennis Roberts, shook hands with Castro-Chavez, he simply said, “Thank you.” Castro-Chavez told him, “It was an honor to wrestle Austin.” All the while, the awestruck crowd looked on.
Amed Castro-Chavez, a high school wrestler from Iowa, reminds us again life is about so much more than points and victories. Wins and losses are forgotten, but the compassion he showed will never be.