A Pennsylvania high school wrestling team has become galvanized around a physically disabled member of the team who received a unique honor thanks in part to one of his teammates.
Jacob Meister is a junior at Bradford (Pennsylvania) High School, where he is a devoted member of the school’s wrestling team. That’s true even though Meister never competes alongside his teammates. Or at least he never had until Thursday, when he took on one of his teammates at the end of the team’s first match back from the winter break.
As reported by the Bradford Era, Meister suffers from cerebral palsy and autism, but has remained committed to every part of the wrestling team. In recent weeks he spent some time “wrestling around with some of the guys on the team,” and one of his teammates, Dillon Keane, proactively stepped forward and offered to wrestle Meister at the end of a meet.
The Meister-Keane bout went precisely the way everyone in the stands wanted: Keane set up on top, brought Meister into the bout and then was pinned by his younger teammate as the crowd roared its approval.
Video of the bout was shared by Keane’s girlfriend, Brooke McGriff, and quickly went viral. While the additional attention has brought international recognition for Meister’s passion and Keane’s good deed, the latter is insistent that all he really wanted was to help a teammate and friend achieve a dream.
The effort clearly wasn’t lost on Mary Jo Corignani, Meister’s mother.
“That match was so much more than just watching a child with disabilities. It was about a team, a team filled with heart. I will be forever grateful for the way they’ve embraced my son,” Corignani told the Era. “Disability has never defined Jake. And, if anything, he’s proved different doesn’t mean less. He not only looks up to Dillon (Keane), Derek (Sunafrank) and the rest of the kids, he considers them friends.”