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LOPEZ BROTHERS AIM HIGH

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By Kolby Chang

Brothers Micah (left) and Joey (right) Lopez are aiming to wrestle for Guam in the 2016 Olympics. (courtesy photo)

Brothers Micah (left) and Joey (right) Lopez are aiming to wrestle for Guam in the 2016 Olympics. (courtesy photo)

It’s natural for brothers to get into wrestling matches and fights with one another. It’s just a part of growing up in a household made up of boys.

For Joey and Micah Lopez, however, the years of grappling and scrapping with one another has created a unique bond that is more than about bragging rights and winning arguments. These siblings have much bigger plans in mind.

“My number one goal, on top of the list, is to go the Olympics with my brother and wrestle for Guam,” Micah Lopez said via telephone from Riverside, Calif.

In order to achieve that goal, the 2013 graduate of Harvest Christian Academy is now attending California Baptist University and wrestling for the Lancers at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II level. The life of a student athlete is stressful and taxing but true to the nature of a wrestler, Micah Lopez finds a way to tough it out.

“What keeps me going is getting better and giving all the glory to God when I wrestle so I never have the thought of giving up,” the younger Lopez said.

Meanwhile, older brother Joey Lopez is balancing the daily grind of working full-time, going to wrestling practice at Spike 22 and competing as often as possible in order to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

The 27-year old is in the final stages of preparation for the 2013 FILA Senior World Wrestling Championships held from Sept. 16-22 in Budapest, Hungary. To say Joey Lopez is focused on winning would be an understatement.

“I don’t want to just score, I want to win matches and I want to make it to the medal rounds,” the 2005 St. John’s School graduate firmly said.

The brothers’ paths to amateur wrestling’s grandest stage might be a little different but the Lopez’s venture into wrestling began on the revered mats of Spike 22 under the tutelage of Melchor Manibusan. Joey Lopez started wrestling before Micah Lopez but it wasn’t too long before little brother, at the behest of bigger brother, followed along to a practice session in 2009. Joey Lopez recognized Micah Lopez’s athletic ability and saw potential in his brother.

“It was right around the time I got serious with my wrestling. I said Micah, I’m telling you, you can be something really special,” Joey Lopez said.

Micah Lopez competing with the FD Friars wrestling team in the 2013 season. (GSPN file photo)

Micah Lopez competing with the FD Friars wrestling team in the 2013 season. (GSPN file photo)

A sophomore in high school at the time, Micah Lopez was playing interscholastic sports and dabbling in mixed martial arts. There was just something about that first wrestling practice, however, that ignited a fire in Micah Lopez and he’s been hooked since day one.

“I just got beat up so bad. It’s just a tough sport,” Micah Lopez said. “It’s so tough and so grueling but that drew me to it.”

Joey Lopez noticed his brother was a fast learner and had a natural flow to his movements but it was Micah Lopez’s commitment to the sport that really stuck out. “He wakes up, prays, goes to school and then he wrestles. That’s all he wants to do,” Joey Lopez said of Micah Lopez.

Now after hundreds of hours of grinding, shucking, pummeling each other the Lopez brothers have a common ground that could have only been discovered on the wrestling mat.

“We can talk and be buddy, buddy in the car on the way to training and during our run but when we hit the mats it’s a different story,” Micah Lopez said.

“Some may find it odd that a sport based on physically dominating and overwhelming your opponent could somehow bring people together, but that is exactly what wrestling does. It is a teammate pushing another teammate to achieve greatness or a competitor earning the respect of another competitor.  In this case it is two brothers who have shed blood, sweat and tears together only to grow stronger as well as closer though it all. ‘We’ve spent a lot of time together,” Joey Lopez said.”‘He’s my best friend.”

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