The two wrestlers knelt on the mat facing each other, the winner of a national championship and the guy who lost. The tops of their heads touched as they placed their arms on the other's shoulders.
They stayed in that position for 25 seconds. They were praying together. Then they stood up, embraced in a tight hug and took turns raising each other's arm to signal the winner.
It was a cool display of sportsmanship. The backstory to that wonderful moment Saturday at the Division II national championships provided a lesson about character and humanity.
Minnesota State Mankato heavyweight Darrell Mason won the championship on the same day that his beloved grandma Bessie died. He received the news an hour before weigh-ins.
Bessie Anderson was his rock. As a kid, Mason lived with her in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project on Chicago's South Side.
Everybody called his grandmother Miss Mae. She was known for her caring nature, her generosity in cooking meals for neighbors and her candy supply.
"She was the most loving person," Mason told me Tuesday.
A stroke and heart problems caused her health to fail. Mason talked to her last week before traveling to St. Louis for nationals. Her final words in their phone call: "Good luck. I love you, baby. Go win your national title."
As he waited for weigh-ins before the semifinals, Mason sent a text to a group chat with family members back in Chicago. That's when he received news that his grandma had died.
MSU Mankato coach Jim Makovsky saw Mason walking down a hallway in tears. When he went to check on him, Mason began sobbing and collapsed into his coach's arms, then fell to the floor.
"I kept reassuring him that there are a lot of people that love him," Makovsky said.
Coaches and teammates took turns consoling the junior heavyweight known affectionately as "Debo." Eventually, Mason was able to smile as he shared stories about his grandmother. He told Makovsky that he would've loved her cooking.
Mason considered withdrawing from the competition. But then he thought about what his grandma would say to him in that moment, and the answer came easy.
He defeated Shawn Streck of Central Oklahoma 3-2 in the semifinals. Streck's reaction to the loss went viral. As an emotional Mason dropped to his knees, Streck shoved him in the back and then offered a terse handshake.
Streck apologized to Mason in person and on social media afterward. Mason said he was so caught up in the moment that he didn't realize what had happened. He accepted the apology and wrote a gracious social media post asking people to forgive Streck.
"Everybody's emotions run high when they are at their lowest or disappointed with the results," Mason said Tuesday. "I didn't want anyone to hate him."
The scene after the championship match deserves more attention. Mason defeated Andrew Dunn of Kutztown University 5-3 in a hard-fought contest.
Dunn, who began his career at Virginia Tech before transferring, won the national title in 2019, was the No. 1 seed this season and had not lost at the Division II level.
He lost his final collegiate match.
Then he prayed with Mason, thanking him for a good match and congratulating him on finishing the season undefeated (22-0).
"Sometimes in a moment of pain you have to be grateful for that, too, because there are teaching moments in that time," Dunn said by phone Tuesday.
Their interaction caused Makovsky to reflect on something that happened earlier this season. Mason celebrated a win by doing a backflip. His coaches were not pleased and let him know it.
Save that for the national championship, they told him.
He did something different. He went to his opponent and asked to share a moment together. Dunn put his arms around him.
"Andrew Dunn will always be a good friend of mine because of that," Mason said.
Dunn didn't learn about Mason's grandmother until after the awards ceremony. Hearing that news stirred Dunn's emotions because his own grandmother died in 2020, right before the national tournament. As defending champion that year, he wanted to repeat in his grandmother's honor, but the event was canceled because of COVID.
As disappointed as he was Saturday, Dunn felt thrilled for his opponent.
"We can be great athletes and great competitors," Dunn said, "but we can be great people too."
Debo shed many tears Saturday as he experienced different emotions. He also fulfilled his grandma's final wish for him: He went and won his national title.