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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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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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