Wayland Baptist coach remembers wrestlers following fatal crash

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Wayland Baptist University and Plainview communities continue to mourn the loss of three pioneers killed in a car crash over the weekend. In honor of Brian Anderson, Christian Orozco, and Elena Vazquez, friends, family, and teammates gathered Monday night on the Plainview campus for a moment of prayer and a balloon release. Attendees were also able to write messages of love and prayer for the families of those three students.

WBU wrestling coach Kiiler Stephens has been coaching for more than 20 years. He says Brian, Christian and Elena were some of the kindest wrestlers he’s ever met.

“Three young kids that really had bright futures and it’s just, it’s been really heartbreaking,” Stephens said.

Stephens called Christian Orozco, the junior pre-engineering major from Fort Worth, the ultimate teammate.

“Christian, you know, when I first moved here, he knew my family hadn’t came out with me. So, when he’d come to practice, he’d always say, ‘Hey coach, do you want to come over for dinner? I know you’re alone.’ That’s just the kind of guy he was,” Stephens said.

Sophomore Elena Vazquez from Houston was pursuing a degree in chemistry.

Stephens says even though this past season was her first, she dove into the strategy behind the sport.

“She was just a brilliant, brilliant mind. You know, I used to joke around and say someday when I’m having that major heart attack or something she’s going to be the one to save my live because she was just a smart, smart girl,” Stephens said.

Brian Anderson from Lancaster California graduated from WBU in May with a fitness management degree. He was set to come back in the fall as a grad assistant, planning on pursuing a Master’s in education.

“Brian was more like a big brother/coach to these kids. He would, you know, he would jump in with anybody and say ‘hey, let me show you how to do it this way,’” Stephens said.

Claude Lusk, senior vice president of Operations and Student Life, says the university is supporting their families and teammates. That includes when their parents visited the gym to be where their child realized their passion.

“This is where the mats are rolled out. They wanted to touch that space, touch that. And how real is that? What a joy to be able to say my child loved what they did here,” Lusk said.

Lusk says counselors will be working very closely with the team moving forward. Monday morning, the wrestlers were back in the weight room.

“We lean into the passion that was their passion, wrestling. We remember whose we are as Christians and we keep going,” Lusk said.

Stephens says the university plans to honor these three students again when all faculty and students get back on campus in the fall.

Some of their teammates set up a GoFundMe to help the families with funeral expenses.

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