Shakopee wrestling family outraged after state tournament match

Julia and Derek Walters were traumatized and left frustrated with leadership at every level, after they say their son, Shakopee sophomore Kyler Walters, was robbed of his state title dreams on March 1.

Kyler was winning a match against a Forest Lake wrestler when his opponent appeared to put him in a chokehold. Then he says he lost consciousness for under a minute.

"I felt like I was waking up in the hotel, and then it all struck me that I was in the middle of the Xcel," Shakopee wrestler Kyler Walters said.

After being evaluated by medical staff, Kyler was allowed to continue wrestling. But moments later, the family says his opponent choked him out again. And this time, by the time he regained consciousness for a second time, he’d been pinned.

"I was heartbroken… I was mad at him. It was cheap. He didn’t deserve to win at all. He wasn’t going to win," Kyler said.

Days later, Kyler is feeling normal again, but his family and many in the community feel sick. They’re calling for accountability and demanding more protection for athletes.

"Something needs to be different. No athlete should be losing consciousness twice in any kind of athletic event. It’s crazy," Kyler’s mother Julia said.

"I thought something had happened to his neck to the point where he couldn’t move," Julia added. "He could’ve been really hurt, you’re not supposed to maneuver an unconscious body."

"This was a trained behavior from the athlete, and this isn’t the first time he did it," Kyler’s father Derek finished.

The Forest Lake wrestler's father is a coach on the team, and Derek says their family is known for the potentially dangerous chokehold move.

"It’s a completely illegal maneuver," Derek told FOX 9. "He was unconscious for about 14 seconds before he woke up. You can see him convulse."

But, Darrin Homme -- a former collegiate wrestler and high school coach -- analyzed the tape and reached a different conclusion. Homme says because the Forest Lake athlete was on the bottom, he thinks less-expecting refs did not see him as a threat, or believe Kyler was in danger. Still, after missing the call the first time, Homme says the refs should have learned from that mistake the second time around.

"The front headlock is not illegal, the way he put it on is not illegal… not illegal, but potentially dangerous," Homme finished. "It’s definitely a gray area. It’s a judgment area for the ref."

Shakopee Public Schools sent FOX 9 this statement on Monday:

"The well-being of each and every student athlete is always the top priority for Shakopee Public Schools. The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) directs the Boys Class AAA Wrestling State Tournament. As the tournament director, the MSHSL, under the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) policies and guidelines, is the final arbiter for all on-site scoring and rule determinations for the competition."

The Minnesota State High School League also provided comment:

"The National Federation of High Schools and the Minnesota State High School League, in conjunction with its officials, coaches and its Sports Medicine Advisory, work each offseason to review rules, trends in wrestling, the safety of wrestlers, the methods and mechanics of officiating as well as points of emphasis for the coming season. This annual review and the decisions of these groups are shared through the training of both coaches and officials always prioritizing the safety of all wrestlers."