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Oklahoma State athletes Ferrari, Rodriguez injured in crash

January 25, 2022 GMT

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State wrestler A.J. Ferrari and runner Isai Rodriguez were in fair condition after their car overturned following a collision on Monday night. Rodriguez was flown by helicopter to a hospital, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Ferrari tried to pass three cars while cresting a hill in a no-passing zone at about 8 p.m. Monday, according to the state patrol. They were returning to Stillwater following an appearance at a youth wrestling practice in nearby Cushing, the school said in a news release.

Ferrari’s 2019 Dodge Durango collided with another vehicle, left the road, rolled and landed in a ditch, according to the state patrol report. The 20-year-old Ferrari, the NCAA champion in the 197-pound weight class last year, was airlifted to the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City with head and leg injuries. The 23-year-old Rodriguez was taken to Stillwater Medical Center with arm, leg and head injuries. Both were wearing seatbelts.

“I didn’t see the vehicle until late last night,” Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith said Tuesday. “They’re lucky. There was definitely somebody watching over those two and the others that were involved in the wreck. They were definitely lucky to walk away from it with minor injuries.”

Smith said Oklahoma State football offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn told him he helped pull Ferrari out of his vehicle while it was on fire.

“It’s a story we can all be thankful for,” Smith said of Dunn’s presence. “I’m sure glad he was there. I don’t know how many people would go to a car that was on fire and pull them out, but I’m sure glad coach Dunn was there.”

The other driver, 56-year-old Valenda McKee of Ripley, Oklahoma, was not injured, according to the report.

A.J. Ferrari Sr. said in a Facebook post that his son is fortunate.

“It looks like a miracle that he didn’t have anything broken or any long term head issues,” the father wrote. “He has fluid in his lungs that is affecting his oxygen levels and some bad bruising with some internal bleeding, so they are keeping him here.”

Ferrari has signed a name, image and likeness deal with World Wrestling Entertainment as part of its “Next In Line” program. He won the 2018 Junior Folkstyle National Championship and earned a bronze medal representing the United States at the 2018 Cadet Freestyle World Championships. He was U.S. Junior National Champion in 2020.

Rodriguez is one of the nation’s best distance runners. In 2021, he was All-Big 12 in indoor and outdoor track and a second-team All-America outdoor performer. He is a two-time cross country All-American.

It appears both will recover from their injuries.

“The good news from what we first originally thought as I was going to the scene — a lot different,” Smith said. “Really low to really high. That’s what the experience was.”

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