Article Courtesy of Mark Palmer, Senior Wrestling Journalist
Services have been announced for former University of Missouri wrestler B.J. Toal, who died last Monday after an April 1 accident in Columbia, Mo. He was 23.
Visitation for Bruce Toal will take place Friday, April 21 from 3:30-8 p.m. at Connection Point Church of God, 1510 Campbell Road in his hometown of Sidney, Ohio, with the funeral at the church on Saturday, April 22 at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow at Graceland Cemetery in Sidney.
Memorials may be made to Living Waters Ministries, 7935 Parkway Rd, Balsam Grove, NC 28708. Condolences may be expressed to the Toal family at the funeral home's website, www.cromesfh.com.
Toal, who wrestled for the Mizzou Tigers during the 2013-14 season, had been serving as an assistant wrestling coach at Battle High School in Columbia at the time of his death.
The Columbia Tribune contacted local police which provided the following account without naming Toal:
"On 4/1/17 at 1:24 a.m., an officer observed a verbal disturbance between two males at Hitt and Broadway. The officer went to contact the two males and one of the males walked up to the officer and the other male ran away from the officer.
"The male who ran away from the officer was found in the alley near 8 Hitt Street and had a laceration to his head from falling down. The ambulance was called to the scene and the male subject was transported for a head injury to a local hospital."
The Missouri athletics department and Missouri wrestling issued a statement on Tuesday, April 11, the morning after Toal's death.
"Mizzou Wrestling and Mizzou Athletics is saddened to hear of the passing of former wrestler B.J. Toal, who passed away yesterday after being involved in an April 1 accident. With his older brother Zach being on the team as well [from 2009-14], the Toal family has been a part of the TigerStyle family for a long time and forever will be. Our thoughts and prayers are with B.J.'s family and friends during this time of grief."
Missouri head coach Brian Smith shared his memories of the late wrestler.
"I remember meeting B.J. when he was in 8th grade. I joked with his older brother Zach that he was stronger than him and I knew I would recruit him even though he wasn't in high school yet. He came in with a great recruiting class, and we had high expectations, but unfortunately injuries kept him from reaching those expectations. The great thing about B.J. was he continued to share his passion for wrestling through coaching and other avenues. He impacted so many other people's lives, just like he impacted ours. The TigerStyle family is going through a tough time right now, my biggest prayers are with his family helping them get through this."
Toal had just finished his second season as an assistant coach at Battle.
Michael Wakim, Battle's head wrestling coach, had warm memories of working with Toal.
"We didn't get enough time to work with him," Wakim said. "I didn't get a chance to get the full Bruce experience. He was just a great guy with a big heart and loved wrestling and the kids."
"He was a fun guy who cared about the kids and program," Wakim continued. "The more we hung out, there wasn't any drama. When we went out as a coaching staff to have fun, we had fun. One night we were sitting out, talking until late in the night as guys, we had a chance to open up and see the other side. There is the serious wrestling side, the fun side and there is the guy who you can sit down and tell your problems to and he will listen."
"He was a good coach in the practice room, but when he was going to do some personal workouts and a kid wanted to come in, he would welcome them in with open arms, because he wanted to see them train and see them get better," Wakim added.
Kim Presko, the principal at Battle, said the school community is saddened by Toal's death and wishes the best for his family.
"Our kids have suffered a second loss of the coaching staff, with the loss of (assistant football coach) Jon Dinter, and we're providing any assistance to work through this," Presko said. "It's a tough thing to go through, but our guidance counselors were with the team when they found out about the accident to provide assistance to work through the grief.
"The kids are doing a great job talking about the memories they had and thinking about their lives and how (Toal) added to that and the impact he had on them personally and on the team," she said.
Born in Sidney in west-central Ohio in September 1993, Bruce Patrick Toal wrestled at nearby Troy Christian High School, where he was a two-time Ohio high school state champ. Both of his coaches at Troy Christian shared warm memories of their star wrestlers with Ohio newspapers in and around his hometown.
Ty Morgan, who took the helm at Troy Christian after former coach Steve Goudy stepped away for four years just as Toal was starting his sophomore year, told the Troy (Ohio) Daily News, "Coach Goudy had invited me down to check out the facilities and the first time I met B.J., he was drilling with his best friend, Jordan Marshall. He introduced himself to me and he was very humble and very respectful. Everything was, 'Yes, sir. No, sir.' That's the kind of kid he was. I think as long as I knew him, he continued to call me sir.
"He was one of the hardest workers I've ever met. Every practice we had, he gave it everything he had, whether it was drills, weight or sprints. He also had to deal with a lot of injuries. His sophomore year, he had a kneecap that kept sliding out of place. I knew he was in an immense amount of pain, but he wouldn't quit. He wanted to keep going. He would still run every sprint. He kept wrestling that entire year, all the way up to the state championship match. He is a kid who didn't fear anybody. He didn't fear competition. He wanted to go out there and compete against the best."
Toal, competing at 171 pounds, was a Division III state runner-up as a sophomore. He would capture back-t0-back state titles at 182 pounds as a junior and senior. As a senior, he also helped lead the Eagles to a Division III state team championship.
"I feel very fortunate I was able to get to know B.J. and his family," Morgan said. "This is hard to accept. He was such a special kid. He's someone I'll never forget."
Steve Goudy, who again is at the helm of the Troy Christian wrestling program, weighed in with his thoughts on B.J. Toal.
"The hardest part for me has been getting calls from my former wrestlers from the past who are trying to understand this and trying to make sense of it," Goudy said in an interview with the Troy Daily News. "The Toal family is such a giving family -- they have done so much for so many people over the years. They are some of the most spiritual and giving people I know. It's hard to understand."
"B.J. was a blessing to all who knew him," his father Bruce Toal said in a statement to the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. "He was a compassionate and loving person who touched so many people's lives. He will be deeply missed. The outpouring of love and concern from all who knew him testifies to the kind of person he was."