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Sammy Sanchez trending upward with third-place state finish

Fort Gibson High School sophomore wrestler Sammy Micco Sanchez and his coach Sammy Johnson pose after the team finished runner-up in the Oklahoma high school state dual tournament Feb. 20. The following week Sammy Micco Sanchez placed at the Class 4A individual state tournament. He finished third.
Fort Gibson High School sophomore wrestler Sammy Micco Sanchez and his coach Sammy Johnson pose after the team finished runner-up in the Oklahoma high school state dual tournament Feb. 20. The following week Sammy Micco Sanchez placed at the Class 4A individual state tournament. He finished third.

A year ago, Sammy Micco Sanchez ended his first appearance in the Oklahoma high school state wrestling championships knowing that something was missing.

The Fort Gibson High School standout had exceeded expectations by reaching states as a rookie, but a quick exit – two matches, two losses – gnawed at him because he didn’t taste victory.

“He hates to lose,” said Fort Gibson coach Sammy Johnson.

Filled with determination, Sammy – the wrestler – made returning to states and earning a place on the podium top priorities in his sophomore season this year. Sammy accomplished his goals Feb. 27-28 when he won three matches to finish in third place in the Class 4A championships at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

“I was going to come out with something. I wasn’t going to go 0-2 like I did my freshman year,” Sammy said while he worked out in the Howard Tiger Recreation Center in Hollywood during Fort Gibson’s spring break in mid-March. “My coach told me before the match, ‘Don’t be satisfied with getting here; go get something.’”

For the second year in a row, the other seven state qualifiers in Class 4A’s 195-pound class were from higher grades than Sammy, but the sophomore started off by building a 5-0 lead on his way to an 8-5 decision against Elgin junior Zach Garrett in the opening round.

The victory moved Sammy into the semifinals, where he lost to Catoosa senior Branden Ferguson. Sammy and his coach didn’t dwell on the defeat, which kept them out of the state title match. Finishing third or fourth – which would get a spot on the podium alongside the state champion and runner-up – was still up for grabs.

“I let him know don’t be happy with just placing; let’s get third,” Johnson said.

“I don’t like to think about losses,” Sammy said.

Sammy didn’t have to think about anymore losses because he won the consolation bracket’s semifinal and final to earn third place.

“Third place is big for a sophomore to do,” Johnson said.

Sammy trailed 2-0 early in the consolation semifinal but rallied to win 8-4. In the consolation final, Sammy outlasted Cushing junior Dalton Hockett in sudden death overtime, 2-1.

“I escaped with one second left to win the match. If he would have held me for that one second, he would have won,” Sammy said.

The dramatic victory capped an impressive season for Sammy, who said his 37-7 record met another objective.

“My goal was to keep it below 10 (losses), and I did. Next year’s goal is to go undefeated or keep it below five,” he said.

Already with more than 50 career wins in two years of high school wrestling, Sammy is on pace to reach triple digits. His progress at states from his freshman to sophomore years – which included runner-up at regionals – is another encouraging sign as Sammy sets his sights on winning a state title next season.

“I think it’s an achievable goal,” Johnson said.

Sammy’s next goal will be to repeat as an All-American at the National High School Coaches Association National Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he, his brother Jesse and several of their Fort Gibson teammates will compete in early April.

 

 

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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