KEYC - Remembering Austin Roberts One Season Later

Remembering Austin Roberts One Season Later

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A Spencer, Iowa high school wrestler tragically passed away at a tournament last season.

The team mourned the loss of Austin Roberts, and he will never be forgotten.

Beastmode, that's about the only way to describe Austin Roberts wrestling.

"He was a monster, he was pretty muscular," said Nic Hoefling, senior wrestler. 

"I mean he just kept getting bigger, and he got better, and anything he was doing athletic wise, and that was a testament to his work ethic," said Adam Gress, co-head coach. 

Roberts was a little rough around the edges during his first couple years, but finished eighth in the state tourney as a junior..

"Yeah he was strong and had muscles, but he wasn't very successful as a freshman varsity wrestler, I think these kids that grew up with him coming up through the ranks, and our youth program got to see him become successful because of the work he was putting in," said Gress.

"His junior and senior year, he really developed his technique, and that with his strength was unstoppable," said Chris Gross, junior wrestler. 

Roberts ranked as one of the top ten wrestlers in Iowa during his senior campaign, before he collapsed at a tournament and later passed away.

"We're still battling through this even now even a year later, going through it and processing it," said Jacob Pingel, senior wrestler.

"All of the posters is just kind of an everyday reminder....he died doing what he loved...and we want to prove to everybody that we can still fight as a team," said Pingel.

The whole moment came as a shock not only to the team, but the entire Spencer community.

In spite of those difficult circumstances, the Tiger wrestlers became closer with each other.

"The whole team has kind of come together better than I feel like all four years of high school. We act more as a team and brotherhood, so it makes the season better."

That teamwork's led to a solid season, with the squad finishing second in the conference, and sending a handful of grapplers through to the district tournament coming up this weekend.

"We've had a lot of fun, seen some success, and have some stuff to work on, but I think we're going in the right direction," said co-head coach, Ryan Pratt.

Even though Roberts is gone, there's no doubt he's still watching over this team with that same infectious smile, and joy he wrestled with for four years.

"I loved his energy, and his laugh, and he always had crazy ideas, and it was always a lot of fun hanging out with him, I can't think of just one, there's so many different memories," said Gross.

"He got everybody pumped up and going, lifting up the little guys, even the big guys he was pretty muscular, he just got everyone pumped up for their match," said Pingel.

Leaving a legacy behind for years to come.

--KEYC News 12