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Western Minnesota community mourns loss of three-sport high school athlete Tyler Stone

BARRETT, Minn. – West Central High School is a combination of several small towns two-and-a-half hours from the Twin Cities. 

All of those towns, and especially the football team, are grieving this week after losing a leader and a friend.

Team captain and three-sport athlete Tyler Stone died in a car accident Sunday afternoon.

Last year, West Central went on a ride to U.S. Bank Stadium, ending with a state runner up finish.

“That was a blast,” said Anthony Sykora, Stone’s teammate and best friend. “To get to U.S. Bank, that was really awesome.”

For Sykora and the seniors, there was optimism this fall as well. But on Sunday afternoon, it all hit a tragic pause. There is suddenly a memorial in the school for Stone.

“It’s just kinda hard, really. It’s so hard to take in,” Sykora said.

It has turned into a week of raw emotion. Head coach Nate Wood is also the school’s counselor. He has been forced to counsel while he seeks counsel.

“I reached out to a few colleagues just to pick their brains a little, and I asked what do I do? How do we move forward?” Wood said.

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Tyler Stone

CBS

The stadium has been lit up every night for players to come and grieve. Their teammate and friend is gone, and the student body is in shock.

“It hit me right away, but over the past couple days it’s just been like, he’ll walk through the door at some point,” said friend and teammate Damon Sanstead.

Stone’s father is an assistant coach for the Knights. He stopped by practice the next day.

“On Monday the kids just all gathered around him, big group hug, and let him talk a little bit, and no one else said a word,” Wood said.

Because this group is its own family right now, and one of their leaders is being remembered for what he was.

“Walk out the door and every time you’d leave he’d let his teammates know he loved them,” said friend and teammate Isacc Kraft. “He’s one of those guys.”

He was the one you could count on. Every day, every time, in every situation.

“Always had my back, always did,” Sykora said. “He’d do anything for me.”

The kid grew up into a young man – the kind others wanted to be like.

On Saturday, they will hold a funeral service for him on the football field, because no church is big enough to accomodate. They will remember, and they will wish they could be with him just one more time.

The team will travel to Pillager to play Friday night, then attend the funeral on Saturday.


Source: CBS Minnesota

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