Your Character Matters: Tulare Western High School’s Alex Ornelas

Central Valley Today

Every week in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education, we tell stories about South Valley students with great character.

It’s a viral video that’s been watched more than 9 thousand times on Twitter and it’s touched the hearts of everyone who sees it.

In the video you see a Tulare Western High School wrestler Alex Ornelas in a face off with Tulare Union High School wrestler, Adam.

But what you don’t see is that Adam is a student with special needs and this was his first wrestling match.

Alex, was gracious enough to be pinned down by Adam and take a loss.

“It was really nice seeing him smile,” Alex Ornelas, a Senior wrestler at Tulare Western High School said. “He hugged me. I hugged him and he said, ‘I beat you.’ I was like, ‘Yeah you did and he was like yeah I pinned you’.”

Alex was chosen by his coach to do the honor of competing against Adam.

“I knew Alex would be the perfect one to be there because he has a big heart, Gjon Guerrero said, Alex’s head wrestling coach at Tulare Western.

It’s not everyday you see such a selfless act from a competitive high school athlete.

“I did lose twice that day but losing to him actually made me happy,” Alex adds. “Really losing to him made me happy. I didn’t care that I loss.”

When losing is actually winning, and inclusion reigns above all else.

“It was great to hear that Adam was going to get his first match and it’s something that not everybody gets to do,” Adam’s teammate, Kaden Hernandez of Tulare Union High School Wrestling said.

“Especially someone like Alex who was going to let him go out there. Alex is a great wrestler and for him to give up the match for Adam is really special.”

Adam’s Tulare Union teammates are touched by the kind gesture — especially coming from their biggest rival in Tulare Western.

It’s something Adam will remember for a long time.

“He jumped up everywhere he was excited. It was really neat to know he was excited to win and it was awesome,” Alex Ornelas said. “It was an amazing feeling because he is a great guy.”

It’s a true story of sportsmanship that can be summed up in a simple text.

Alex adds:

“Then my Dad texted me and said, ‘I’m proud of you son.”

Alex Ornelas of Tulare Western High School shows us why Your Character Matters.

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