Accident stuns crowd as spotlight falls on wrestler
By LARRY LEEDS, Sports Editor
During the past 27 years of having Madison Square Garden Night, no one has seen anything like what was witnessed during the 160-pound match on Friday night between Madison High School's Michael McComish and Chamberlain's Thomas Swanson.|
During the first period, after the wrestlers were declared out of bounds, the athletes went back to the center circle in the Madison Middle School Gym. McComish had just taken the down position and a split second later, the spotlight came crashing down on the Madison senior.
"I have never seen anything like this at all, and I have attended all of these matches," said former Madison coach Dale Waba, who was also announcing for the MSG event. "I can't imagine what could have caused this to happen."
On Monday, Athletic Director Bud Postma said that the rope holding the spotlight broke, but he declined further comment, as did Coach Chris Waba.
When the spotlight fell, McComish's opponent and the referee instantly jumped back. Jared Barger, who was in the stands, quickly came to the mat and helped the referee pull the light off McComish, who was then attended by meet officials and Lynn Landeen, a local nurse who was present.
After his injuries were bandaged, McComish walked out to be treated at the local hospital.
Heather Bergheim, McComish's mother, said that he was back in school doing what all senior boys are supposed to be doing.
"We are very thankful it was not more serious," she said. "We are hoping for the best and taking it just one day at a time."
On Monday afternoon, McComish told The Daily Leader that he had 15 to 20 stitches on his forehead and the back of his head. He said that the rope broke and he heard the chains rattle, then he thought, "What the heck happened?"
He estimated that the fixture weighed around 100 pounds.
While many rumors had indicated McComish sustained burns from the spotlight, he said that he was not burned, but "it was warm underneath there."
McComish has been a devoted wrestler since sixth grade and had to miss wrestling at the Kingsbury Tournament on Saturday, his mother said. However, he was there supporting the Bulldogs.
"I talked to him on Saturday at Arlington," Dale Waba said. "He did not have any bad burns, he told me."
The halogen lights in the spotlight had recently been replaced, producing much less heat.
After the accident, officials spent some time cleaning up the mat and then wrestling continued -- but without the spotlight which typically highlights Madison Square Garden Night.