High school wrestler gives up perfect season so special needs opponent can win
Deven Schuko has racked up plenty of wins over the course of his high school wrestling career. Yet for all his victories, it’s a loss that’s drawing the Norton High School senior international attention.
Schuko, a perfect 27-0 this year, gave up his chance at an undefeated season in order to make a dream come true during a wrestling meet in Massachusetts over the weekend.
Dighton-Rehoboth High School’s Andy Howland, a 21-year-old transition student, has Down syndrome. But that hasn’t stopped him from competing in his favorite sport.
“He’s strong as a bull,” Andy’s mother Debbie Howland told The Sun Chronicle. “[His teammates] always treat him with respect.”
Coming into this weekend’s meet, Schuko was one of the top ranked wrestlers in the state, a co-captain of the Norton High wrestling team who only recently racked up his 100th career win.
Yet when he heard Howland was looking for an opponent at the meet, Schuko volunteered.
“I asked the coach, and he said he thought that would be a great idea,” Schuko said. “We just wanted to make his day.”
Video shot by Norton’s Anthony Pucino shows what happened next, as Schuko and Howland lock up, and Howland drags Schuko down in a front headlock, rolls him over, and get the pin.
“He threw in a good move,” Schuko told WCVB News. “He was strong. He’s a tough kid.”
It was a surprisingly quiet moment, without any fanfare or announcement. The only sign something special has happened is in Howland’s reaction, as he runs to his teammates with high fives and hugs.
Yet it has exploded into a viral hit since it was posted to Pucino’s Facebook page on Sunday, racking up nearly 10,000 shares.
Schuko has a simple reason for wanting to give Howland such a meaningful win.
“I’ve been in sports all my life, and wrestling I believe is most demanding,” Schuko told CBS News.
“And for someone like Andy to wrestle and stick with it, I wanted to make his day.”
Schuko has received international attention for his gesture, and he’s been interviewed by both local and national news outlets, and was even featured on ESPN.
“It’s humbling I guess, and pretty cool for all the attention for a simple act of kindness,” Schuko said.
“I think the message is sportsmanship is alive and well today, and it’s because kids are accepting kids like Andrew wholeheartedly,” Debbie Howland said.
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