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Bison freshman Walley improving from spinal injury last weekend

Bucknell freshman 184-pounder Austin Walley is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a spinal injury last weekend, Bison coach Dan Wirnsberger said earlier this week.

But Walley’s family reported he is regaining strength and motor skills and showing significant improvement.

Walley, who defeated Montoursville’s Dylan Bennett in last year’s PIAA Class AA 182-pound championship, was 3-0 for the Bison in his first collegiate competition entering the fifth round of Bucknell’s round robin event with VMI and Long Island University last Sunday. Walley was in the top position trailing VMI’s Zach Brown, 2-0, when Wirnsberger said Walley got caught being taken to the mat with nothing to break his fall. Wirnsberger said Walley landed on his head.

“It was just a wrestling move,” Wirnsberger said. “It was nothing dirty or intentional. It was just an awkward position.”

Walley’s family put out a statement through Bucknell on Monday saying, “Austin suffered a cervical spine injury but has regained his strength and motor skills while at Geisinger Medical Center. We would like to thank the Geisinger doctors and support team for caring for Austin after the injury and wish to express our gratitude for the outpouring of support from the Bucknell wrestling community.”

Walley was a two-time state placewinner at Ellwood City High School, becoming the school’s first state champion last season. He finished his career with a 139-25 record and placed fourth in the state as a junior.

He won his first three matches Sunday, 10-2, 6-2 and 15-2 before being injured in his final bout.

“He can focus on getting well, getting healthy and getting back,” Wirnsberger said. “My heart really broke for him, but he’s a resilient guy. There’s no question he can come back from this stronger than ever.”

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