FORT GIBSON, Okla. — After spending part of their Christmas vacation on Hollywood Reservation, the Sanchez brothers returned home to rack up more wins on the wrestling mats in Oklahoma.
In January, Fort Gibson High School’s wrestling team won district matches against Poteau and Stilwell, and then successfully defended its district championship with a win against Cascia Hall.
Sammy Micco Sanchez upped his personal record this season to 21-2 with a win in the 195-pound bout against Cascia Hall.
“Sammy won a big match for us, 5-0. We needed Sammy and the next guy to win to clinch our district,” said Fort Gibson wrestling coach Sammy Johnson.
Despite a football injury that sidelined him for several games last fall, Sammy picked up where he left off last year when he qualified for the state wrestling tournament as a freshman. In December, he won all seven of his matches to help Fort Gibson capture the Bristow Dual Tournament, and subsequently, was named the team’s wrestler of the week. He also won both his matches against two Missouri schools at a tournament in Arkansas.
“He’s wrestling really well,” Johnson said. “He’s working hard and getting his weight under control. He’s doing a great job, especially as a sophomore stepping up.”
Sammy said his goal this season is to return to states and place in the top four.
Jesse Sanchez, a junior, lost to a state champion in the 152-pound match against Cascia Hall, but Johnson said Sanchez has wrestled far better than his 13-8 record indicates.
“One fifty-two is one of the tougher weights in [Class] 4A. He gets a lot of tough kids. He’s wrestling his butt off, no matter who it is,” Johnson said.
While in Hollywood, the brothers and their nephew Julius Aquino did not take a holiday from working out. Football and wrestling play huge roles in all three of their lives; so does fitness.
“I like that I play sports because I know that if I didn’t play sports I probably wouldn’t be lifting as much, running as much,” Sammy said during a break as he switched from running on a treadmill to lifting weights at the Howard Tiger Recreation Center. “It’s good that I play sports because it keeps me in shape and it keeps me healthy.”
The workouts are paying off. Sammy, a middle linebacker for the school’s football team, said he squatted about 245 pounds a year ago; now he’s doing about 385. Jesse hit the wrestling mats after finishing as the football team’s second leading rusher.
A few years younger than his uncles, Julius is becoming acclimated to weight rooms.
“I’m starting to focus on that because I’m starting to get my strength up and leg speed,” said Julius, 13, whose strength and leg speed weren’t too shabby last fall when the seventh-grader rushed for 30 touchdowns in eight games for Fort Gibson Middle School. Similar to his uncles, Julius wins more often than he loses on the mat; his record was about 10-4 for the middle school team as of late December.
As for Sanchez vs. Sanchez bouts on the mat, they do happen, but just not officially.
“I hate when [Jesse] talks that he can beat me, so I wrestle him all the time,” Sammy said. “I usually win, but he gets me sometimes because he’s fast.”