University of Missouri

Former Mizzou wrestler B.J. Toal dies from severe head injury

Former Missouri wrestler Bruce (B.J.) Toal died Monday night from a severe head injury sustained April 1 in downtown Columbia.

Toal, 23, who redshirted with the Tigers in 2013-14 and medically retired in the fall of 2014, spent the last two years as an assistant at Battle High in Columbia.

He is listed in the Mizzou student directory as a senior studying Parks, Recreation & Tourism.

The MU athletic department issued a statement regarding Toal’s death Tuesday morning:

“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, the Toal family has been a part of the Tiger Style 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.”

Zach Toal was a four-time NCAA qualifier and the 2012 Big 12 champion at 165 pounds for the Tigers, going 93-50 during 2009-14.

His younger brother, B.J. — a two-time Ohio state champion at Troy Christian High in Sidney, Ohio — followed him to Mizzou.

“I remember meeting B.J. when he was in eighth grade,” MU wrestling coach Brian Smith said in a statement. “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.”

According to the Columbia Police Department, Toal was involved in an incident during the early-morning hours of April 1 when an officer observed him in a verbal altercation with another man near Hitt and Broadway streets.

“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 Columbia Police report said. “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.”

Toal survived 10 days in intensive care before dying Monday evening.

“The great thing about B.J. was he continued to share his passion for wrestling through coaching and other avenues,” Smith said in a statement. “He impacted so many other people’s lives, just like he impacted ours. The Tiger Style family is going through a tough time right now, my biggest prayers are with his family helping them get through this.”

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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