CEDAR RAPIDS – Cheers and excitement turned to concern and stillness for a few minutes during the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Saturday.
The scariest moment of the tournament came when Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Julian Meaney collapsed to the floor following his 16-5 consolation semifinal major decision over Mitchell Hagen of St. Johns (Minn.) at 184 pounds. Meaney was tended to by local medical staff near the matside table, and eventual walked off the arena floor with personnel.
“He’s doing well now,” Elizabethtown assistant coach Jared Sernoffsky said. “He’s just recovering.”
Meaney, whose older brother, Bill, was an All-American at 197 for the Blue Jays in 2012 and younger brother, Jesse, was a national qualifier for Elizabethtown at 141 this year, advanced to the third-place match, but forfeited the next bout to place fourth to finish as an All-American.
Sernoffsky said Meaney has a history of epilepsy and asthma, and confirmed Meaney had a seizure. He added that it has happened a couple times the last two seasons.
“The way it works for him is his adrenaline kicks in so high when he’s wrestling he can’t quite settle himself down,” Sernoffsky said. “It gets harder for his body and heart to handle, because he’s pushing himself.”
His action was limited to nine regular season matches. He exhibited his toughness all season, battling injury and a body infection earlier in the year.
The Blue Jays junior experienced a brutal tournament, overcoming being thrown into scoreboard Friday and knee and nose injuries Saturday. Sernoffsky shouted instructions for Meaney to focus on his breathing during the match. The style of match in the consolation semifinals contributed to the post-match condition.
“I can see when his knees get a little bit wobbly,” Sernoffsky said. “When he gets in those heavy hand fight situations or hitting big moves you can tell he’s pushing his body beyond what it can handle.”
Meaney’s parents and medical professionals have been consulted previously, and he has been cleared to compete. Elizabethtown coaches addressed tournament officials before Friday, informing them of the condition and possible issues.
The episodes are nerve-racking. Sernoffsky was squatted down with his head in his hands, while Meaney was being treated.
“It’s just really stressful,” Sernoffsky said. “We told officials and everybody to make sure they were prepared.”
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