“You’re the real champion here.”
This was the last statement Eureka freshman Garrison Spoonts made to his opponent, Logan Doshier, during the 3-2-1A regional wrestling championship in the 160-pound weight class last month. The duo had just started the second period, where Spoonts was in the bottom position. As they both got to their feet, Spoonts was working for a reversal when he implemented a headlock, taking Doshier, a junior at Cheney High School, down to the mat. That is when the unthinkable happened. As the two went down, Doshier tried to brace the fall and dislocated his elbow.
“The last thing I remember is the look on the Eureka kid’s face,” said Cheney head coach Than Underwood. “He felt bad.”
The match ended abruptly, as did Doshier’s junior wrestling season. However, the true sportsmanship continued.
Although Doshier was taken out on a gurney, he wanted to shake Spoonts’ hand and wish him well at the state tournament. The sportsmanship didn’t stop there. Shortly after Spoonts was awarded the regional wrestling medal in the 160-pound class, he found Underwood and asked him to give a medal to Doshier, as he was “the real champion.”
Doshier learned later that night while still in the hospital what Spoonts had done for him.
“My dad looked at the medal and said, ‘Oh, my God.’ He walked in and told me, and handed me the medal,” Dosher said. “I was amazed. He didn’t have to do that. I was amazed at his character.”
What Underwood did not realize at the time was that Spoonts gave his first-place medal to Doshier, not the second-place medal that belonged to Dosher after forfeiting the match because of his injury.
Underwood said it was a hectic scene. Another Cheney wrestler, Clay Robinson, had a match that started about 30 seconds after Doshier was wheeled away.
Although Doshier placed second at regionals and qualified for the state tournament, he was unable to wrestle.
At State wrestling in Hays the following week, an official from Fredonia High School, which had hosted the regional, presented Underwood with Doshier’s second-place medal. That’s when Underwood realized that Spoonts had presented his first place medal to Doshier.
“All regional medals are the same bronze color. We never looked at the medal he (Spoonts) gave to Logan,” Underwood said.
A few weeks later, Eureka head wrestling coach Mike Davison received a letter from Cheney. The envelope not only included a note but a 1984 Class 4A, 138-pound medal – a medal Coach Underwood earned 35 years ago.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” stated Spoonts. “It was the last thing I expected. I injured one of their star wrestlers.”
Underwood was moved by the gesture.
“I was amazed the kid had thought to do that, and in that atmosphere with how things had happened,” Underwood said. “That’s when I realized Spoonts didn’t have a medal.”
That bothered Underwood, who said medals mean a lot to kids.
His note to Eureka head coach read: “Here’s a first place Regional medal for your 160 lb. Sorry the weight and year are wrong.”
Doshier texted Spoonts and wished him luck at State, and watched online as Spoonts wrestled at State.
“Wrestling forms a lot of friendships. At least for me, it has,” Doshier said.
The Cheney Cardinals were one of many teams cheering the Eureka Tornadoes to their first-ever wrestling title. For one, other teams knew the hardships Eureka has faced in the wake of two tornadoes in three years. Another reason teams got behind Eureka, Underwood said, is that 3-2-1A State is often won by teams from northwest Kansas. A lot of central and eastern Kansas schools were happy to see the trophy awarded to a team not so close to Hays.
Although Spoonts and Doshier hadn’t met on or off the mat prior to the regional championships, the two have created a friendship, that simply started with acts of true sportsmanship.