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Dathan Wickson’s wrestling story wowed Jordan Burroughs

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Jordan Burroughs has seen the gamut in nearly a decade at the highest level of wrestling, from Olympic and world titles to significant injury to devastating defeat. Then Burroughs heard about high school wrestler Dathan Wickson Jr. and was floored.

Wickson received the Courage Award from Burroughs during USA Today‘s High School Sports Award show Thursday night.

Less than two years earlier, Wickson spent four hours having a cyst that grew into a tumor removed from between his brain and his skull.

“Wow, just incredible what this kid has been able to overcome in a short period of time,” Burroughs said by phone Thursday evening. “Typically, the adversity that you overcome as an athlete are injuries: a torn labrum, a torn ACL or some sort of injury that happens that’s wrestling related, but this is one of the few times you see an individual that has to overcome something as serious as brain surgery.”

It all began when Wickson was 10 years old. In his sleep, he fell off a couch and hit his head on a coffee table. Doctors closed the wound. Wickson felt fine and went about regular life, including wrestling and playing football.

Then Wickson developed headaches as a high school freshman, so intense that he underwent tests. They showed a crack in his skull, which was connected to that fall several years earlier. A cyst had formed, leaking spinal fluid.

“I was really scared at first because I never think I have to have brain surgery,” Wickson said. “Then, when it started to come down to it [surgery day], my family was really close to me and telling me everything was going to be OK.”

Doctors told Wickson that he would be able to wrestle again. He returned in full this past season.

“At first it was really tough,” coming back from surgery, Wickson said. “I couldn’t do anything at all. We’re just sitting back, watching everybody [practice]. And I like to take action. I don’t like to sit back and watch what other people do, and I can’t do anything. It was a really tough time, but I knew I had to get back out there on the mat.”

His dad and coach, Dathan Sr., was so confident his son would be unaffected in competition that his primary concern was the move from 120 pounds as a freshman to 152 pounds as a junior.

“After he started to go, just the timing of being back on the mat was a big struggle, reacting to his opponents and stuff like that,” his dad said.

Wickson persevered. He won nine straight matches at one point and became the only wrestler from his school — (Rockford, Ill.) Boylan Catholic — to reach the state tournament.

The goal next season is to win a state title. Wickson wants to wrestle collegiately. If he does both, he would follow the path set by his favorite wrestler Burroughs, who didn’t win a state title until his senior year.

“This is a great story, inspirational story,” Burroughs told Wickson on the phone. “When you’re living it, you can’t really see how cool it is, the accomplishments that you’re making and the strides that you’re gaining while you’re living it, but it’s pretty cool to see from the outside looking in.”

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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