Wrestling for the first time since the death of their teammate Ryan Estrada, the Hornets quietly paid tribute to their friend Wednesday night.
Estrada, 16, died Saturday after being found unresponsive in a Saline High School locker room before wrestling practice Friday afternoon. Estrada also played football and competed in shot put for the track team in the spring.
Perhaps only the Hornet wrestlers, their coaches and family even knew it when captains Dylan Powers, Nolan Krause and Daniel Poupore honored Estrada before the dual meet at Dexter High School. The three captains carried out Estrada’s wrestling bag, containing his shoes and head gear, before the opening match against Bedford.
“It’s difficult to accept. We miss him. We love him,” said Saline High School senior Nathan Powers. “We pay our tribute to Ryan every single day. We carry around his shoes and head gear. He’s our fourth captain from now on.”
It seems virtually everyone at Saline High School shares similar thoughts about Estrada.
“He was always happy and always had a smile on his face. Whenever someone was down, he’d find a way to bring them up,” said Dylan Powers, a senior and co-captain on the team.
Powers said Estrada would have appreciated being named honorary co-captain.
The Powers brothers were teammates with Estrada in football and wrestling.
Nathan Powers spoke of Estrada’s warmth.
“He was one of the most heartwarming guys. You could never be mad at Ryan. And you couldn’t be sad around Ryan. He was always the guy who found a way to make you laugh,” Powers said.
The dual meet began with the public address speaker asking for a moment of silence to honor Estrada. One of the few overt gestures to Estrada came from junior Daniel Poupore. He and Estrada have been teammates since freshman year. After Poupore pinned his Bedford opponent, the referee lifted Poupore’s hand in the air to signify victory. Poupore glanced to the heavens and and pointed up with his right hand.
“It was for Ryan. The rest of this season and next season, I want to wrestle my heart out for him. He meant so much to this team and made such an impact on us all,” Poupore said. “He was just fun and energetic. He was always smiling and dancing. He was good, loving and caring guy.”
The wrestlers agreed it was good to be back on the mats again after a shocking and emotional week.
“This is where we come to forget all that sadness. But we don’t forget Ryan. He was a good, loving and caring person. And he’s still with us,” Poupore said, motioning to Estrada’s bag.
Around the community, people are still rallying around the Estrada family. On Thursday, Oscar’s Sports Bar and Grill, 6877 State Road, will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the Estrada family to help pay for medical bills and funeral expenses.
A GoFundMe campaign has raised $22,602 for the Estrada family as of early Thursday morning.
The service for Estrada is at 12 p.m., Saturday, at Saline High School. Visitation is from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in the school's auditorium.