Sioux Falls, SD
Madison High School senior Michael McComish has wrestled since the sixth grade. He's been taken down before, but Friday was the first time he was pinned down by a light.
The 18-year-old was just minutes into his match against a Chamberlain competitor during the high school's "Madison Square Garden" match. All the lights in the gym are turned down, except for a lone spotlight that hangs above the wrestlers. In a video captured by the Madison Daily Leader, and later reposted to YouTube, you can see the light fall and land right on top of McComish.
"I heard the chains that were holding it up. I heard them. Next thing I knew it was really bright. Next thing I knew I was like, get this thing off me," McComish said.
McComish says he did not have time to see it happen, but he noticed a few things. He said it felt like the light weighed about 100 pounds and he saw everyone around him was in a panic. The incident meant a trip to the emergency room.
"I could see the blood coming off of me," McComish said. "They had like a whole handful of paper towels and it was still going through the paper towels."
"[When I saw it I thought] That's my baby. That's my baby," McComish's mom, Heather Bergheim, said.
The 160 pound wrestler, who has been ranked eighth in his weight class in South Dakota, had to have about 20 stitches in two places on his head. Initially officials thought he had burns from the light, but he did not. Other than that, he said he only had a few scrapes on his knees. He even begged to continue wrestling, despite his head injury.
"We always say I have a really hard head and if it would have hit me anywhere other than the head, I would have been in trouble," McComish said.
It is easy to spot a positive attitude and a sense of humor on the high school senior, who will attend University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall.
"A lot of people have told me I truly am the only one that's wrestled under the lights at Square Gardens," McComish said with a grin.
Madison has hosted the Madison Square Garden match every year for the past 27 years. The school will soon have a new gym, and Activities Director Bud Postma says there are no plans to stop the event.
"[It] Was indeed a scary situation for everyone involved. We're thankful to report the student athlete is recovering and back in school today," Postma said. Postma gave the statement on behalf of the district superintendent, who was out of town.
Postma did not say how or why the light fell, nor did he say how this would affect how the light is hung in the future. McComish was quick to say there are no hard feelings, but he does have one complaint.
"The only thing that made me get upset was I didn't get to wrestle, because that was my one and only chance to wrestle that night and I didn't get to," McComish said.
McComish says his opponent showed true sportsmanship and gave him the medal after the match. He hopes to be back on the mat soon and should be able to wrestle in Brookings on Saturday.
His family will not take legal action and had nothing but good things to say about the school district.
Video Courtesy: Madison Daily Leader