Tyler Allen's wrestling future beckoned like a bright light in the distance.
He competed since he was 4 and was crowned a USA wrestling state champion, a California World Challenge champion and a Valley Oak League champion as a freshman at Oakdale High. Then came tragedy in the form of an auto accident in 2007 as he was en route to an all-star practice.
Three years later, Allen, 18, is an Oakdale senior mostly confined to a wheelchair. Naturally, some of his best friends are wrestlers.
Allen, whose ordeal has not been forgotten by those in the wrestling community, will be honored Friday morning at the opening ceremonies of the 37th CIF State Wrestling Championships at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena. He'll be recognized at the event for which he probably would have qualified had fortune smiled on him.
Also in the arena will be the six Oakdale wrestlers who've qualified for the season-ending meet — Shane Tate, Charlie Gilstrap, Wyatt Casey, Trent Noon, Kevin Butler and A.C. Brown.
In fact, Allen trained and competed against many of this year's elite from throughout the Stanislaus District, including Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champions Tate, David Ferry of Central Catholic, and Fabian Garcia and Garrett Fortado both of Turlock.
"I guarantee you, Tyler would have won state this year," said his father Jason Allen. "He was at the top of his game when it happened. His strength is what kept him alive."
Tyler lay in a coma for 2½ months after the accident. His survival has heartened his family and friends, and he still will roll around with his wrestling buddies.
"He can control his hips he knows all the moves. It's just his body won't let him do it," Jason Allen said. "Tyler can't walk very well or talk that great but still loves going to the tournaments with all his friends."
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.