SANDWICH, Ill. — An Illinois middle school wrestler is speaking out after a widely-shared video shows him getting punched by his opponent after a match.
Jillian Hill’s 14-year-old son Cooper is a two-time state wrestling champion, competing in the 125-128-pound division. On April 8, Cooper competed in the Beat the Streets tournament at Oak Park High School with his team out of Spar Academy in Aurora.
“He had won the match by tech-fall and when they came to the circle, Cooper extended his hand to shake his hand,” Hill told WGN News. “That’s when the assault happened.”
The video shows Cooper, in an orange singlet, shaking his competitor’s hand just seconds before the Maine West student punches him in the face. Cooper immediately fell to the ground.
“I remember there was this stinging in my face. I balled up and I checked for blood. I looked up to see my stepdad and mom checking me,” Cooper told WGN News.
“Cooper has had very intense matches before but nothing of that sort of level,” Hill added.
The police were called. After some discussion, the family decided to move forward with criminal charges.
On Thursday, the Oak Park Police Department said the person who hit Cooper received a local ordinance citation for assault.
According to a news release from the police department, an adjudication hearing has been scheduled for May.
“When we see these things happen, we need to take them seriously and get children the help that they need so that this will not continue,” Hill said.
USA Wrestling will also impose a one-year suspension on the Maine West student.
“I think the suspension will give him some time to think about what he did wrong,” Cooper added. “I don’t wish any bad things upon the family. I don’t wish anything bad for him. I wish the best for them. I think the suspension should help clear their minds up and make him act right.”