WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/Gray News) – A teenage wrestler in Kansas died Sunday due to an apparent heatstroke, his high school announced.
Damian Mendez had been running outside while wearing a sweat suit, which is a technique many wrestlers use to try to cut weight.
The Midwest and other parts of the country were under excessive heat warnings over the holiday weekend.
Mendez graduated from Dodge City High School in May after winning his second consecutive state championship title. He was unbeaten in his final two years of high school, and he announced he was going to attend North Dakota State University starting this fall on a wrestling scholarship.
Dodge City wrestling coach Tate Lowe said Mendez was like a son to him.
“You build relationships with kids, but with Damian, it was beyond that,” he said. “Heaven gained a champion last night.”
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.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Mendez’s family pay for funeral expenses.
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