He was hoping for a little more, but David Sanchez will take it.
After battling his way to a runnerup finish in regionals a week before to qualify for the state tournament, the Miami Springs wrestler, just a junior, headed north to Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee last weekend with his coach Dave Ryan with big hopes of big things. But at the same time, deep down, also knowing it would likely be “a learning experience.”
And that’s exactly what it turned out to be as Sanchez enjoyed modest success tempered with a little disappointment, settling for an eighth place finish in the Class 2A 138 lbs. weight class.
“At first I was happy to just go up there and compete with the best in the state,” said Sanchez. “But once I has some early success, I got greedy and starting thinking I could really go far.”
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The early success Sanchez referred was his first round match against Danny Gutierrez of Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, who boasted a 30-4 record, on Friday morning.
Plainly admitting that he was nervous at the start of the match, Sanchez struggled, falling behind Gutierrez 3-0 heading into the final two-minute period.
But, with the butterflies gone, Sanchez got aggressive and went after Gutierrez, taking him down twice for a pair of two-point takedowns, the second coming with just 30 seconds left, to forge a 4-4 tie and force sudden death overtime.
Just 20 seconds into OT and clearly with the momentum, Sanchez took him down again for another two points to win it 6-4 and advance to the second round.
“Yeah, I have to admit I was anxious going into that first match but after the first period, I settled in and got more comfortable,” said Sanchez. “By the time the third period came, I knew I had to get aggressive and find a way to score some points. Once I got it to overtime, I was confident I would be able to finish it off at that point. I was really happy because knew I was one match closer to making it to the podium.”
But Sanchez’s exactment didn’t last a whole lot longer. Later that day he went up against Geoff Doback from Brandon High School (outside of Tampa) who showed why he had a 64-5 record coming into the quarterfinal match as he jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one period and pinned Sanchez 40 seconds into the second period ending the match and sending Sanchez into the wrestleback brackets.
“The kid from Brandon was tough,” said Sanchez. “Short, stocky, really strong. I couldn’t do much on my feet, couldn’t set him up and then he took me down late first period to get in the lead. In the second period he picked top and started cranking on me, caught me in a hammerlock and got me on my back and I knew I was in trouble.”
Needing to win three wrestleback rounds to make it to the consolation (third/fourth place match) round on Saturday night, Sanchez recovered nicely from the Doback loss by knocking off Darien Tucker from Jacksonville Ed White 6-2 on Friday night to get him into Saturday morning’s next round.
But there, he ran into another big-time wrestler in Jared Tarvin from Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland. Tarvin brought a 42-6 record into the match and pinned Sanchez 20 seconds into the second period eliminating the Springs wrestler from any further competition.
“It’s a state tournament and I knew the deeper you go, the tougher it gets and I knew the Lake Gibson kid would be tough,” said Sanchez. “He most likely was watching my matches because he kind of knew how to play me. We were on our feet and he was kind of running away, backing up and being really defensive, forcing me to go in after him. That’s when he would drop low, catch me and put me to my back.”
But, like he admitted early on, the whole thing was a learning experience for Sanchez and now he plans on taking that knowledge and using it to try and springboard himself into a big senior season next year and get back to Kissimmee.
“Even though you never want to go down, overall it was still a great experience,” said Sanchez who watched his year-long nemesis, Belen Jesuit’s Julian Ramirez go all the way and win the state title. “I just really ran into some great wrestlers and, me only being a junior I’m already looking forward to getting back up there next year and giving it another shot.”
“It’s such great experience for David because he wound up having to go up against (Julian) Ramirez all season long which really helped prep him for how tough state would be,” said Ryan referring to the four matches between the two, Ramirez winning all four, three by pin. “The kid wound up going all the way to win it and the Brandon kid (Doback) wound up taking second so you really go through quality wrestlers and what happens hopefully is that you pick up some of that quality yourself so David’s in a good spot right now going into next year.”