Emerson Lux-Morales is a man of few words, but that hasn’t stopped him from making his presence known.
The Western Dubuque heavyweight wrestler has become a fan favorite over the years and earned his first trip to the Iowa state wrestling tournament at Saturday’s district meet.
The Telegraph Herald Athlete of the Week defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds en route to his state-qualifying performance, including a third-period pin over Hempstead’s Cayden Lovett in the final.
“Emerson is a kid who has worked his tail off for everything he has,” Western Dubuque coach Paul Cleary said. “He’s an extremely special kid who seeks nothing but gives you everything he has.”
This is Lux-Morales’ first year on the varsity team, and he’s made an immediate impact for the Bobcats.
“A few years ago, we began to notice that he would skip part of his lunch break to go lift weights,” Cleary said. “There are few kids who enjoy putting their body through the ringer, but he does. We knew coming into this season how hard he works and how good he was going to be.”
Emerson said he enjoys the pain that comes with working out because it “makes him feel alive.”
Although he has never wrestled at state before, he is excited for the opportunity.
“I was very happy to know that I would get to wrestle some more,” Emerson said. “I know that it’s going to be a very big place, and I’m going to try my hardest to win. I think having someone like me winning it all is the ultimate goal.”
Lux-Morales (14-5) will face Muscatine’s Togeh Deseh (37-5) in the opening round today.
“Emerson fears no one, and we know he is going to wrestle his heart out,” Cleary said. “He’s a fan favorite and one of the most loved kids at school, and everyone is so excited for him.”
Lux-Morales said he has noticed other school’s fans cheering for him during meets.
“It makes me feel very happy,” he said. “I love being able to wrestle for Western Dubuque.”
Added Cleary: “He’s extremely loyal and tough. He loves his teammates and coaches and he never complains. He’s just a real special kid, and I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than him for this award.”