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Two-time state champion Damian Moreno headed to Division I wrestling, signs with Arizona State

One of Kofa's most decorated wrestlers to take his talents on the mat to Tempe

YUMA, Ariz., (KYMA, KECY) - Cut from the same cloth as a former state champion while being surrounded by the deep roots of wrestling, a success story with extremely high expectations sounds inevitable.

The accolades came true, yet there was never any extra pressure for Kofa's Damian Moreno when he took the mat for the Kings. Simply, just a destined success story.

On Wednesday, in front of coaches, family and friends, Moreno put pen to paper to continue his wrestling journey by signing with Arizona State University - further cementing his legacy as a Yuma athlete.

A legacy that carries 160 career match wins and two elusive state championships.

Moreno's commitment also making him one of just two athletes from all of Yuma in the past year to sign to the Division I level - after Yuma Catholic's Richard Stallworth.

"I've really been thinking about this my whole life, wrestling in college," said Moreno. "I'm just super stoked and super excited to get out there on the mat. Having new coaches and new teammates, I look forward to all of that."

And one thing Moreno will undoubtedly bring to the table in Tempe is discipline - the main factor in what got him to where he is today as a two-time state champion. Moreno was crowned the champ in both his sophomore and junior seasons in the 106 pound weight class.

In impressive fashion, Moreno went on to win a staggering 72 straight matches over that period.

Entering his senior campaign, Moreno had a chance to be the first ever three-time state champion before ultimately coming up one win shy - losing in the state title match at 113 pounds.

But being the bright young man he has become, he knows with every downfall there is clarity on the other side.

"Those titles that I won, it came with a lot of hard work obviously. A lot of discipline and consistency. That's a big takeaway that I have from those two years," said Moreno. "But a big takeaway is also from my loss this year. You don't always get the outcome you always want or you may not always achieve your goal you set for yourself. Our outcomes are not what define us, but rather how we act upon them and how we keep going on after that."

That wisdom coming from his upbringing in a hard working household - one where his own father, local legend Pepe Moreno - laid the foundation for his wrestling journey. Despite trying to live up to the success of his father and state and national champion sister, Damian has always strived to be his own self and perfect his own wrestling style.

"There were some expectations. I really tried not to let that get in the way of my wrestling and how I wrestle and my attitude because that can take away from the sport sometimes and that can take away from your performance," said Moreno. "His (Pepe's) support was the same throughout my four years in high school and all my life really. It was always the same thing of 'go out there and try your best. That's all you can really do.'"

Given the humble young man that he is, Damian was hesitant to shed a smile when asked how cool it will be for people from Yuma to see him on TV someday wrestling for a national title - something that will surely make the community proud.

Off the mat, he plans to study electrical engineering in hopes of receiving his master's degree.

Article Topic Follows: High School Sports

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Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson is News 11’s Sports Director.

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