By Michael Hicks
Kurtis Soeby died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident in May 2005.
Tyler Carron and Nikko Landeros had their legs amputated following injuries suffered after being hit by a car driven by a fellow Berthoud High School classmate in January 2007.
Staff Sgt. Justin Bauer of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division died while serving his country in Iraq earlier this month.
What do they all have in common? All four were wrestlers at Berthoud High School at one time or another. They were also football players. If one didn’t know better, you would think that Berthoud’s athletic program was cursed.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s all coincidental, but three tragedies to four Berthoud athletes in just four years hits a little too close to home, if you know what I mean.
Situations such as these happen all of the time in communities such as Berthoud. But how many times have they happened to not only the same community, but the same small group such as the athletic program. I would have to say not very often.
Despite the number of tragedies that have, in some way, intertwined with the wrestling program, this is one resilient group. Like they did on Saturday when they mourned the loss of Bauer and did so previously with Soeby’s death and the injuries suffered by Carron and Landeros, the community, school and wrestling team will persevere and move forward.
Thankfully, Carron and Landeros are still with us but their injuries were tragic nonetheless. Luckily for them, and us, we can still cherish having time with them. Unfortunately, Soeby and Bauer are no longer on this Earth. But through the wrestling team they won’t soon be forgotten.
On Saturday, the Spartans paid tribute to Soeby with the annual Soeby Spartan Classic. As long as his name is associated with the annual wrestling tournament, he will forever be remembered. Meanwhile, Bauer was not only remembered at Saturday’s meet — where a banner hung on the team leaderboard — but tribute was also paid to him at Friday’s girls’ basketball game at Silver Creek High School in Longmont.
A scholarship fund has been named in Bauer’s honor. Bauer’s family has founded the scholarship, which, according to Berthoud Athletic Director Rusty Mathena, they hope goes to a male student-athlete who won’t get a full athletic ride and is someone of good character.
That would be fitting considering the strong character that these young men have shown.
Former Berthoud wrestlers have suffered through unfortunate circumstances. But when one looks around and sees the outpouring of support from the community, it doesn’t take long to realize that these young men will never be forgotten. They will always be remembered. They will also always be Berthoud athletes in spirit.