Dodge City wrestling champion dies of heatstroke
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Former Dodge City wrestler Damian Mendez, who graduated this spring after winning his second consecutive state championship, died over the weekend due to apparent heatstroke, the school announced.
Mendez had been running outside wearing a sweat suit.
On Feb. 17, Mendez, who was unbeaten in his final two years at Dodge City, announced he was attending North Dakota State University. At the time, Dodge City wrestling coach Tate Lowe wrote on Twitter, “It has been awesome coaching this young man. Remember him running into freestyle and Greco (Roman) practice with so much energy and love for wrestling as a little guy! Excited for his future!”
In writing on Mendez’s death Monday, Lowe said, “Heaven gained a champion last night.” A meal train has been set up to help the family.
Tuesday, Lowe elaborated on what Mendez met to him, beyond what the decorated athlete accomplished on the mat.
“Like a son, honestly,” Lowe said. “You build relationships with kids, but with Damian, it was beyond that.”
Dodge City High School wrestlers Joshua Gonzales and Juan Avalos said they’re driven to put in the work to honor their friend.
“I think I got to wrestle through Damian, you know. I think I got to continue to work hard for Damian you know, I got to carry on his legacy,” Gonzales said.
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