By Kassie Boyd, staff writer
Sophomore Braeden Kantz has become a bit of a local celebrity. A viral video of two novice wrestlers chasing each other around the mat in the Saegertown gym features Kantz as the referee. The recording, which was made at a fundraiser tournament on Dec. 18, was originally posted by Alexis Salyers, @momthingx3 on Instagram, and has since been picked up by major news outlets like CNN and ESPN.
The video features the two young children engaged in an adorable face-off. As soon as the whistle blows, the young boy runs circles around the little girl. He is encouraged by spectators in the crowd. He stops, and he and his opponent meet in the center of the mat. During the clip, the girl is ahead by four with two takedown and two nearfall points. After the clip ended, according to Kantz, the two continued to wrestle and the girl won by fall.
The recording first gained notice when it was posted by the California USA Wrestling, Inc. Facebook page on Feb. 23. It has since been shared over 31 thousand times, and has nearly two and a half million views. Instagram page @houseofhighlights, with five million followers, reposted the video, and now has more than a million views. Popular Twitter pages @BleacherReport, and @TakingFiveHQ are a few of the many social media pages sharing the video. It earned a feature on both ESPN’s Snapchat, and Instagram on March 1, and television extensions SportsNation and SportsCenter.
Kantz was surprised by the clip’s explosive fame. “It’s weird, knowing that so many people have seen me just doing a regular task,” Kantz said. He was a volunteer referee and can be seen clearly enjoying the children’s playfulness. At the novice level, PIAA does not require certifications for referees, so varsity wrestlers like Kantz step up to do the job. “The kids were hilarious. They were so young, but I think it was more for the parents’ enjoyment,” Kantz said. “Everyone had fun. It obviously wasn’t a stressful match.”
Students at Saegertown have taken notice of their classmate’s fame. “I’ve got dozens of texts from people telling me what station it’s on, how many views it has gotten, and their reactions,” Kantz said. Students have retweeted, liked, and shared the video multiple times. “It’s good publicity for my family name, since I was wearing my Kantz shirt,” Kantz said.
Daniel Lineberry, father of Isaiah Lineberry, the young boy in the video, was surprised by the reaction. “There’s been tons of good [responses], but there are trolls everywhere, we just ignore them. It was such a funny video. It made people laugh.” Isaiah’s match has been viewed by millions of people all across the world. “When I told my son, he asked if he could go color with crayons,” said Lineberry. Both Isaiah and his brother are members of the kids wrestling club at Saegertown. “It’s a little strange knowing my son is now a common household thing,” said Alexis Salyers, Isaiah’s mother. “I love that people are enjoying him as much as those close to him do everyday.”
The tape even caught the attention of ABC’s long running show “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Lineberry was contacted and asked to submit the video, so Kantz was asked to sign a consent form granting his permission.
For his part, Kantz will continue to referee matches between novice wrestlers. The internet, sports fans, and regular people have all enjoyed the recording, and Kantz is enjoying his own touch of stardom while the minute-long clip continues to entertain millions of people.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School