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Valley Duals boasted more than great wrestling

Photo of Coach Bush and son Mason

Thunder wrestling coach Bob Bush celebrated the highlight of his coaching career when his son Mason chose kindness and sportsmanship when facing an opponent with Down syndrome at the recent Valley Duals wrestling tournament.

Central Valley Academy’s wrestlers put on a show at the 2016 Valley Duals wrestling tournament held at CVA Dec. 9-10.

Although Thunder dominated the mats (Mason Bush, Jon Charles, David Bardo, CJ Walz, Hunter Shaut, Tanner Cook, and Collin Treen went undefeated in CVA’s 8-0 victory), the tournament’s biggest story wasn’t in the stats. It was found in the heart of eighth grader Mason Bush.

Mason wrestles at 99 lbs. for the Thunder. His dad is Thunder head coach Bob Bush.

When the thunder faced Little Falls, Mason went up against Connor Wilks, a young man with Down syndrome. Connor had already suffered first-period pins in each of his previous matches. Mason made a conscious decision to make this match different. Instead of going for a quick pin, Mason wrestled Connor for the full six minutes, trading takedowns and escapes. At the end of Mason’s 28-26 win, he gave Connor a hug.

Mason’s sportsmanship was not lost on the crowd. They stood and gave the two wrestlers a standing ovation.

At the end of the tournament, coaches from each school selected the Most Outstanding Wrestler (MOW) from their teams. That posed a problem for Central Valley.

“It was going to be a tough decision to figure out which of our seven undefeated wrestlers deserved the MOW,” said Thunder coach Bush.

So instead, the CVA coaches decided to give the Thunder award to the Little Falls wrestler.

“It was a highlight of my coaching career,” said Mr. Bush.

“I had a hard time holding it together when I presented Connor the award. He had a huge smile on his face. He received a standing ovation and everybody and anybody with a camera was taking his picture with his award.”

Later, Connor’s father thanked Mr. Bush, saying his son will cherish this forever.

Mason’s actions were a lesson for his opponents, his teammates, the spectators, and his dad.

“This was much bigger than winning or losing a match; this was truly something great,” said Mr. Bush.

“I was extremely proud, not only as a coach, but as a father, with Mason’s performance.”

Mason needed no prompting prior to the match. Mr. Bush had tried to speak to Mason before his son stepped on the mat. But the young man stopped his father, saying “Dad, don’t worry, I know what to do.”

Clearly he did.

Apparently, Mason’s actions were appreciated beyond those present at the tournament. CNY selected him as Section 3 Wrestler of the Week.