Alex Lopez, wrestler and senior at Kentlake High School, was recognized this week as the Covington-Maple Valley Reporter’s 2018-19 Male Athlete of the Year.
He thinks it’s cool to be the first male athlete of the year for the Reporter, but doesn’t say much else on the matter. He doesn’t like to brag.
Coaches agree he’s a humble kid, but that it’s clear his teammates see his wrestling skills. Some even get emotional talking about Lopez.
Lopez has been wrestling since he was 6 years old. He attended Sawyer Woods Elementary School and Cedar Heights. The transition from middle school to Kentlake left him with some challenges as a wrestler his freshman year.
“It was coming in and trying to wrestle varsity opponents in a tough league, where a lot of teams are competing at a high level,” Wrestling Coach Jeremy Williams said.
Lopez then spent the next two years watching and investing time learning about wrestling. He placed eight in state his sophomore year.
This year his biggest change was being able to bounce-back after a lost match. Both Lopez and Williams said he changed his mental attitude and brought the same spirit to the mat even after facing adversity in the beginning of the season.
Lopez said when he lost at a tournament his junior year, it went downhill from there.
“But this year I learned how to lose and cope with it better,” Lopez said.
This attitude shift also allowed him to face up against some of the best wrestlers in the state. Williams also said since Lopez didn’t do football this year, he had more time for pre-season conditioning and training. He also did a high-intensity wrestling camp at North Idaho College, where he won the takedown tournament.
He will also be attending North Idaho College next year for wrestling.
“(I’m proud of) knowing I did good enough to wrestle in college,” Lopez said.
His coach said he’s most proud of Lopez excelling in his weight class, even with some state champs in his level, and stepping up to the challenge.
Lopez said his advice to other athletes is to get your homework done on time, and not have to miss practice.
“He took care of business so he was able to be there on the mat. He’s exactly what we want from a student athlete,” Williams said. “And now he gets to go on and keep doing this for awhile.”