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Middle school wrestlers honor fallen teammates in Riddle fire

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- Inside a packed middle school gym on Saturday at Crater High School, the focus seemed clearer than ever for Coffenberry and Riddle Middle Schools.

These teams were taking part in a tournament just three days after Coffenberry wrestlers were killed in a house fire. Andrew Young and Nick Lowe were on the wrestling team and it meant stepping on the mat in their honor.

"Nick, he was just like a personality that nobody else could get," seventh grade wrestler Caj Simmons said. "He was a really good friend. He was just really funny."

It was a shocking tragedy for the entire community when a fire killed six people early on Wednesday morning, but it especially hard for classmates at Coffenberry.

"Horrible," Simmons said. "Just horrible."

Other teammates agreed.

"Me and Nick were like brothers and me and Andrew had wrestled since we were like three," eighth grade wrestler Lance Lanham said. "So it was really difficult."

Their coach said the decision to wrestle this weekend took a lot of heart.

"They have to dig deep just to show up on the mat and keep their head up and take care of business and focus on what has to get done," coach Tom Kuntz said.

Not all of their teammates were able to wrestle at the tournament, but the ones that did said it is motivation that can be used a positive.

"The last conversation I had with Nick and Andrew was 'What if we won?'" Lanham said. "So it's pushed me to win."

It's an effort in their honor displayed by the whole team.

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