CYPRESS, TX (KCBD) - This past Saturday – Lubbock High’s Alex Pena won his second straight wrestling state championship.
But what people don’t know, Alex has been battling some adversity that has tried to pin him down – before the season even started.
“I hurt my toe and so it put me on crutches, and I didn’t think it was nothing major,” Lubbock high wrestler Alex Pena said. “But, I hurt my arm while walking with the crutches. I guess it created an infection in my right shoulder, and when I went into surgery on January 6th – I didn’t think I was going to wrestle. I was laying on the hospital bed just doubting that I was going to step out on the mat this year and do what I love to do. Do what I work so hard every year to do.”
But, with only two meets before district started – the Lubbock High junior made his return to the mat with his shoulder still ailing him.
“I knew I wasn’t going to do bad, but I honestly didn’t believe I would be out there at this point,” Pena said. “But, with God, my family and coaches - I was able to come back better than ever.”
Once he was back, his sights were set on getting back to the state tournament.
Once he was there, Alex owned the mat in his first few matches.
“I felt like nothing was going to stop me,” Pena said. “One the first two matches and I felt good.”
But, that is when tragedy struck.
During his state semi-final match, Alex’s dad suffered a heart attack in the second level of the stands.
“Yeah we went from a game to right there in your face,” Westerner head wrestling coach Richard Leal said. “So, luckily, we had some people respond quickly and administered CPR – Brandon Buckles and Randall saved his life no doubt about it. If you are not religious, this story makes you wonder – it is pretty powerful.”
It was right after winning the state semi-final match – was when Alex learned about what happened to his father.
“I ran as fast as I could up there, to go see my dad,” said Pena. “It turns out he had a heart attack - it was pretty heartbreaking.”
Alex would go to the hospital and stay there for about two and half hours.
Once he learned his father was going into surgery, and that he wouldn’t see him for the day.
He didn’t even wrestle with the thought of not competing for the title.
“My finals match was at 4:30, and I knew I had to come back. He would love for me, no matter what, just to go out there and wrestle,” Lubbock high wrestler Alex Pena said. “Wrestle my finals match, he wouldn’t want me to quit. He would want me to go out and wrestle – no matter what.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
With is dad on his mind and his heart on his sleeve – Alex went out there and won the Wrestling State Championship for the second straight year.
“It was shocking,” Alex Pena said. “I knew I did it, I did it for my dad and I did it for everybody. As soon as I won, and I saw that timer got off there was just a burst of emotions in my body, it was just crazy.”
Is dad okay?
“Dad is okay, yes sir. He is walking, he is talking, and he is eating normal. Everything seems to be normal, and he should be back Wednesday night,” said Pena.
If you would like the Pena Family with the medical expenses, they have set a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/pena-family-support