High School Wrestler With Down Syndrome
Wins City Tournament
Wyatt Speck, a Minneapolis Southwest student athlete with Down syndrome, just won the city wrestling tournament.
The high school sophomore crushed the competition at last week’s tournament with encouragement from his team and family. “We like to call him ‘Flash’ because he can move like The Flash when he’s motivated,” Ben Cousins, the team’s head coach, told WCCO. Wyatt and his coach have formed a special bond. Cousins overcame odds of his own to wrestle in college and become Southwest High School’s wrestling coach. Cousins has autism and saw better than anyone early on the potential in Wyatt.
“We like to preach ‘humans first, athletes second,’” Cousins said. “We want to become the most inclusive team in the state, and Wyatt is a big part of that.”
Wyatt is known for having a lot of fun on and off the wrestling mat. At last week’s competition, however, he got into a grove in his weight class in the junior varsity city tournament and kept winning.
“Vinny and Travis, the two assistant coaches, came up and they were like, ‘We don’t want to freak you guys out, but if Wyatt wins this next match, he’s got it,’” Wyatt’s mom Amy Speck told WCCO.
The final period of the championship match was close, and then Wyatt pulled away. He was the only wrestler on the team that day to win his weight class. As Wyatt got off the mat he looked over to his teammates who were all looking back at him with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces. They ran to Wyatt, embraced him, and picked him up in the air to hoist on their shoulders.
“It was awesome,” Wyatt said of his big win.
Wyatt says he was ready for the city championship and felt like he was going to win it. “Just winning the city championship like that, it enforced all of that. He can do anything he wants to do and he’ll continue to do it,” Amy said.
Wyatt won his championship match 11-3. Cousins says he has a strong cradle, which catches his opponents off guard.