WASHINGTON — The second DubTown Throwdown became much more than a celebration of wrestling Friday at Five Points in Washington.
Yes, Class 2A top-ranked Washington wrestled Class 3A top-ranked Oak Park-River Forest on the theater stage of the recreation center, with the visiting Huskies winning 42-18.
But there also was an outpouring of love and support for Washington Community High School wrestling coach Bryan Medlin and his family, one day after their rural Deer Creek home was destroyed by fire.
Medlin has been overwhelmed by the support.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “I’m just trying to wrap my head around what to do next. And when you have a thousand people come up to you and say, ‘What can I do to help?,’ it feels good. It helps me personally to know there are people out there who care.”
As soon as Washington High athletics director Herb Knoblauch heard the news, he contacted Superintendent Kyle Freeman. Information went out to the staff and the community went into action.
“Coach Medlin has just helped out so many people, so many wrestlers — even during the tornado (three years ago), he brought wrestlers down from Chicago,” Knoblauch said. “We wanted to do what we could.”
Opportunities to help were posted on Washington’s website as well as several social media outlets. Washington football coach Darrell Crouch reached out to the school’s 12th Man Club, which has more than 12,000 members, and helped set up a gift card collection site at Lindy’s Downtown Market.
“Washington is a special place,” Knoblauch said. “You don't like to see tragedy but one thing with this community, they will help each other out. Our staff, our coaching staff, our student body, to the community itself they are there to lend a helping hand.”
A bank account has been set up and donations can be made through Washington Community Bank or any Morton Community Bank branch with checks payable to “Benefit for Bryan Medlin Family.”
A Go Fund Me account has also been established at https://www.gofundme.com/support-coach-medlin-and-family. In less than 24 hours, more than $22,000 had been donated at the site.
Ticket takers at the DubTown Throwdown collected gift cards and monetary donations.
Even the Oak Park-River Forest community chipped in.
OP-RF coach Paul Collins sent an email out seeking monetary and clothing donations his team could present to the Medlins.
“They’re our brothers from the south,” said Collins, whose team three years ago came down to help in the aftermath of the tornado that hit the area. “Our Huskie wrestling family is trying to get him a decent amount of money, so they can start rebuilding and whenever they’re ready to build their new home we’ll be here putting in the work as long as he reaches out to us.”
Ben Punke’s four sons were a part of Washington’s dual-team state title run last year and three still are members of the team this year.
“What everybody is doing for him, in the end it’s going to show how much he means to everybody,” Punke said. “Everybody’s pitching in, whether it’s money or clothes. Whatever it takes to get them back on their feet. I know we can’t replace some of the personal things, but they mean a lot to a lot of people.”
Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3214 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispjs.