August 9th, 2017

BU wrestling coaches thwart robbery

Adam Pruiett

Bellarmine University Assistant S.I.D

BU wrestling coaches thwart robbery
From left: Jill Thompson, Derek Moore, Officer Jacobs, Spencer Adams and Brandon Sellers / photo provided by Bellarmine

Their scarlet T-shirts read "Bellarmine Knights Wrestling" but, according to Florida vacationer Jill Thompson, Head Coach Spencer Adams and Assistant Coach Brandon Sellers sprang into action on Sunday afternoon as if they wore an "S" on their chests.

"I have some new amazing friends that happen to be real-life super heroes disguised as wrestling coaches," Thompson said.

Thompson delivered the high praise of Adams, Sellers and California Baptist Assistant Coach Derek Moore after the trio of wrestling coaches managed to help thwart and then subdue a thief who attempted to rob Thompson outside a hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, where she was vacationing with her family.

The unsettling incident occurred as Thompson headed to the Daytona Hilton's swimming pool following lunch on the boardwalk. From behind, the assailant forcibly grabbed Thompson's wallet and raced away. She chased the thief, repeatedly screaming, "He stole my wallet," during a pursuit that unfolded from the beach to a side road and then to a main road.

Thompson described the thief as "very fast" and said she lost plenty of ground to him during the chase. The odds of him making a clean getaway seemed stacked in his favor. However, what the assailant most likely did not know was the National Wrestling Coaches Association's annual convention was being held at the hotel. It was swarming with wrestling personnel, and three attendees — Adams, Sellers and California Baptist's Moore — were in the parking lot by the hotel's convention center when they heard Thompson's shrieks for help.

"All three of us started running (for the thief) at the same time," Sellers said.

Sellers and Moore cut off the assailant's getaway path and blocked him from fleeing. Sellers said another man who had witnessed the scene then grabbed the thief and pulled him to the ground. The robber managed to wiggle free but his escape attempt was quickly foiled by Adams, who at that point was approaching the group of men after collecting the contents of Thompson's discarded wallet. The thief had tossed them away during his attempt to evade the wrestling coaches.

From behind, Adams hoisted the assailant up and drove him to the ground, a wrestling move known as a lift-and-turn or a mat return. From there, all four men collaborated on pinning down the thief.

"He wasn't moving," said Adams, who noted the assailant was restrained for approximately 10 minutes before law enforcement arrived.

"It all happened so fast," Adams added. "It was a situation where once we all made the decision to go help, everything flowed. (Thompson) was so happy we caught him, and her reaction made it worth it. Also on a personal level, I have the utmost respect for what our law enforcement has to deal with each day. This incident really put that admiration into an even clearer perspective: Where this situation may be once-in-a-lifetime for us, it's an every-day occurrence for them."


Bellarmine Director of Athletics Scott Wiegandt applauded Adams and Sellers for the courage they displayed in Daytona Beach.

"Bellarmine athletics and the university as a whole is extremely proud of Coach Adams and Coach Sellers," Wiegandt said. "They are great role models for our wrestling program, and their selfless and heroic actions in Florida italicized that."

Police told Thompson that the thief was on probation for assault and battery with a weapon.

"Thank God he did not have a weapon this time, but these men that came to my rescue did not care if he had a weapon or not," Thompson said. "Their response was immediate and brave. They took control of the situation and made sure that I was safe and justice was served.

"I think robbing a lady outside a hotel that is hosting a national conference for wrestling coaches is not the stupidest thing this man ever did, but it certainly wasn't smart," Thompson added. "I guess he wasn't counting on the fact that not only do these guys have strength, speed and amazing submission moves, but they also have tremendous bravery and an authentic desire to serve and help others with their talents. I thank God for bringing us all together on Daytona's strip for a life-changing encounter."


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