But did I win?
That was what Norm Bishop said was the first question his son, Dan, asked after coming out of a surgery that may have saved him from being paralyzed for life.
Dan Bishop, a former Whitehall graduate who was the last state champion the Railroaders produced, appeared to be on his way to the NCAA national finals tournament during his semifinal match in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) wrestling tournament on March 6.
The University at Buffalo wrestler held a 4-0 lead over his semifinal opponent, Gabe Ramos of Ohio University, when Ramos completed an illegal throw of Bishop that ended the match with medical staff at Central Michigan University rushing to his aid.
“He wanted to get back up and he wanted to continue to wrestle,” said Norm Bishop. “There was no way that they were going to let him do that, though.”
It was a good thing, because when Dan Bishop got to the hospital, the severity of what had happened started to become apparent.
“They really didn’t realize the severity of his injuries until they got him to the hospital,” said Norm Bishop. “Dr. Fields, who did his surgery, said that he would have been paralyzed for life if they had not been able to do what they did when they did it.”
“He underwent surgery on Saturday night to relieve pressure on his spinal cord,” said University at Buffalo associate athletic director Paul Vecchio. “We got some encouraging words on Monday from the doctors and he is now in a hospital in Saganaw, Mich., recovering from his injuries.”
Norm Bishop said that after the surgery, his son was a little down, but that he had one question that needed to be answered.
“All he was worried about was if he had finished in second place,” said Bishop. “He has gotten his spirits up since.”
“From that perspective, it’s heartbreaking,” said Vecchio about the injury derailing the senior’s chances at the national tournament in his final season. “But considering what could have happened, we are happy that he is doing well.”
Norm Bishop said the doctors have been impressed with his son’s progress, and plans are in the works to transport him to either Buffalo or Albany in the near future.
“It’s been tough for us, sometimes,” said the older Bishop. “But what Danny has shown the doctors as far as being able to feel when they touch his legs has got his spirits up and is a good sign to the doctors.”
Bishop said his son cannot currently walk or move his legs, but that the prognosis is that he will be able to regain the usage of them.
“It will take six months to a year to reconstruct,” said Bishop.
In Whitehall, his former head coach said he was pleased Dan Bishop was recovering, but felt bad that he would not get to pursue a national dream.
“I was disappointed for him because I know how hard he has trained for this,” said Bob Diekel. “To be in that situation and get slammed on an illegal move is unfortunate, and it took that dream of the NCAA”s away. But the news sounds good, so we hope he will be OK.”
Diekel said he has been in contact with another one of his former wrestlers, Jedd Mason, who is also a member of the Buffalo wrestling squad.
“We have been texting back and forth as he gets information from the coaches and when we hear something here,” said Diekel.