Oregon wrestler Travis Whitlake Jr. suffered broken legs and vertebrae after a freak truck accident

Oregon wrestler Travis Whitlake Jr. suffered broken legs and vertebrae after a freak truck accident

Oregon State Wrestling is facing difficulties as a veteran wrestler was hospitalized for days after being pinned under a pickup truck.

Travis Whitlake Jr., a sixth-year student, was working under a Dodge pickup Sunday at his family’s home in Coos Bay when the truck came off the crane. Whitlake suffered a compound fracture of his leg and five fractured vertebrae due to the accident.

Whitlake was airlifted to Salem Hospital where he underwent surgery. Whitlake, a four-time Oregon high school state champion while attending Marshfield from 2015-18, was released from the hospital earlier this week. He is currently recovering in Coos Bay.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Wittlake’s medical and rehabilitation expenses.

Whitlake wrestled in Oregon State’s match against No. 1 Penn State last Friday. OSU coach Chris Pendleton said after practice Saturday that he gave the team the rest of the weekend. Wittlake returned home to Coos Bay for a few days before the start of Oregon’s winter quarter.

Pendleton and assistant coach Josh Rhoden went to Salem to visit Whitlake shortly after he underwent surgery.

“He was sitting up and in good spirits,” Pendleton said. “The one thing he said that was absolutely heartbreaking was that he felt like he was leaving his coaches and teammates. I stressed that was 100% not the case. We will miss the big man.”

Whitlake, who is 11-3 and wrestling at 174 pounds this season, transferred to Oregon State last summer after a five-year campaign at Oklahoma State. Wittlake was a three-time NCAA Tournament entrant and former Big 12 champion.

Pendleton said Whitlake wanted to wrestle his senior year close to home so friends and family could watch. Sunday’s accident ended Whitlake’s college career.

“Having him in the program for such a short period of time has been such a blessing,” Pendleton said. His influence has been enormous. On a personal level, being able to watch him reinvest in himself and have a smile on his face every day and love the sport, it was really inspiring to see.

Pendleton said wrestling may have saved Whitlake physically.

“The doctor told him that if he wasn’t a wrestler and didn’t have all those extra muscles in the back, who knows what the prognosis would be,” Pendleton said.

Since returning to Coos Bay, Pendleton said Wittlake has been regularly texting his teammates and coaches.

“He told the coaches he will be back here to help support us soon,” Pendleton said. “We stress that we appreciate that, but we would really like him to stay home and get up. Even though that is the last thing he was built to do.

–Nick Dashiell | @nikdashiel

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