Grand View (Iowa) wrestler goes from coma to competition in one year

Grand View (Iowa) wrestler goes from coma to competition in one year


Grand View (Iowa) wrestler goes from coma to competition in one year


There are moments when Isaiah Tatum’s training partners shake their heads and marvel at his strength.

There are days when the Grand View senior feels he can wrestle for hours and times when his championship-caliber skills and athleticism resurface.

Those are instances when you’d never guess Tatum survived a life-threatening car wreck or endured 10 days in a medically induced coma. You’d never guess doctors told him he wouldn’t compete again. You’d never guess that even as recently as eight months ago he was struggling to master wrestling’s most elementary drills.

“I have faith I’ll get where I want to be,” Tatum said. “I had faith I’d be where I’m at now and I have faith to go get what I want to get.”

What Tatum wants, of course, is the NAIA title he was seemingly on track to claim last season until everything changed in a life-altering instant.

A little more than a year after awakening from a coma in a Des Moines hospital, he’s on the verge of resuming his pursuit of a championship. Tatum is expected to make his return to competition Saturday when Grand View wrestles at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas.

Most of Tatum’s memories from last December remain a blur. He vaguely recollects sitting in the stands at Hilton Coliseum on the afternoon of Dec. 1, 2013. He had ridden to Ames with teammate Chad Lowman and Lowman’s stepfather, Tim Peters, to watch Iowa wrestle Iowa State.

At the time, Tatum was the top-ranked wrestler in NAIA at 149 pounds. He was bubbling with confidence after pinning Iowa State’s Luke Goettl a couple of weeks earlier. It was the type of performance that took Tatum’s wrestling to a higher level and enabled him to shake the hesitancy that previously held him back against top opponents.

But on the drive home, an SUV slammed into the backseat of Peters’ car. Tatum was in the back seat and sustained the hardest hit. He was airlifted to a Des Moines hospital and there was a point when doctors wondered if he’d live a normal life again, let alone wrestle.

“There were a few people who had faith it was possible,” he said. “But going through what I went through and having to reteach myself how to walk and talk, they didn’t think it would happen this fast.”

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