Albert Lea wrestler gives special-needs athlete 1st victoryPublished 2:25am Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Ryleigh Bure gave a special-needs wrestler a special gift: the thrill of victory.
The Albert Lea wrestling team competed at the eight-team Kiffmeyer Duals Saturday in St. Cloud, and a coach from Foley approached the Albert Lea bench between rounds.
“He came over and asked our coaches if one of our kids would be willing to wrestle a special-needs kid,” said Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature. “He didn’t say win or lose, just wrestle a while with him and let him score a few points.”
Bure, a 113-pound sophomore from Albert Lea’s junior varsity team made the choice to take the mat.
“I was going to wrestle someone with Down syndrome, and as soon as I heard that, I knew I was going to let him win,” Bure said. “His coaches said nobody wanted to wrestle him.”
Bure allowed the Foley wrestler to score a few points, and after the third period, Bure’s opponent won the match and ran to the sideline to embrace his coach.
“It was neat and really emotional for the fans and coaches when that kid got his arm raised,” Goodnature said. “He was hysterical that he won the match. It took a special kid like Ryleigh to do that, to give that special-needs kid the time of his life.”
Albert Lea assistant coach Jon Hansen said multiple coaches from other schools made positive comments, including Josh McLay, the head coach from Hastings.
“It was a humbling experience,” Hansen said. “It makes you re-think what high school sports are all about.”
Goodnature said the match was unofficial, but Brue said he counts it in his overall record, which is 23-3.
Bure’s mother, Danielle Bure, posted a video of the match on her Facebook page. She said in the video’s description that she couldn’t be more proud of her son.
A recap for Albert Lea’s varsity finish was in Monday’s Tribune. The Tigers took fifth place. They beat Elk River and Hammond Baptist and lost to Cambridge-Isanti.
Albert Lea will wrestle next at 7 p.m. Thursday at Jansville against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. The junior varsity kicks off the meet at 6 p.m.