Published: February 22, 2014
DENVER — Who's the noisy guy?
Who's the dude in the Discovery Canyon letterman's jacket hollering like he's trying to catch a cab? Who's he hugging…. and why won't he let go?
"When I won state… " Steve Turner's voice trailed off.
"This is 10 times better than that."
This is his baby brother winning state. This is a big brother so overjoyed his face turned the color of a bruise. This was the best thing I saw at the state high school wrestling championships at Pepsi Center late Saturday night:
An older brother — a former state champion himself — holding back tears as Sam Turner, his baby brother by two and a half years, left the mat as the Class 4A state champion at 120 pounds.
"My brother?" Sam Turner said before accepting his medal. "He's my best friend. He's my mentor. He's always there for me."
This was love, man. A sophomore at Discovery Canyon, Sam Turner beat Pueblo County's Chris Sandoval in a 5-3 decision for the title. From a front-row seat, Steve Turner almost yelled himself hoarse. Pity the poor lady sitting behind him.
"Make the first move, Sam!"
"Keep the intensity, Sam!"
"You got this, Sam!"
When it was over, the guy who didn't wrestle had a tougher time catching his breath than the guy who did.
"My whole life, it was most important to make him better than me," the older brother said. That's saying something, since Steve Turner won a state title as a junior at Discovery Canyon in 2012.
"He's always had more talent than I ever had," Steve added.
This is a family thing with the Turners. Their father was a varsity wrestler at the Air Force Academy. The brothers have a pair of state titles between them, and Sam has another two years left. The youngest brother, Jared, is an eighth-grader who recently finished undefeated at the middle-school level. Look out, Class of 2018.
"He's getting there," Steve said.
Here's something else to appreciate about the Turners: when little brother felt like big brother was picking on him, there was only one place to settle it.
"In the garage," Sam said.
The brothers didn't take it outside; they took it onto the mat, a 5x5 wrestling mat in the raw environs of the family garage.
When your brother's pinned your head against a car, the bright lights of Pepsi Center seem like an afternoon of walleye fishing at Pueblo Reservoir.
"I threw him into the garage wall a couple times, too," Steve said. "It's always been the place to settle an argument."
These brotherly battles started when Sam was just 4. Steve was almost 7. The source of their arguments? Brother stuff. Steve might have used the family computer for too long, snacked on Sam's lunch or borrowed his sweatshirt. Then it was on.
"Whenever we'd have a disagreement, we'd just take it out on the mat," Sam said.
Over the past eight years, Discovery Canyon has become a staple on the state wrestling scene, taking second last year as a team and sixth this season. Sam Turner's title was their seventh or eighth individual title, coach Ron Sukle said.
"We try to keep a simple philosophy: stay in good position, be aggressive, good things will happen," Sukle said. "These are high school kids. Keep it simple."
Few things are more simple, or effective, than two brothers settling their differences in a one-on-one wrestling match.
"Sometimes we'd make up a fight just so we could go wrestle," Sam said.
Soon after winning his state championship, Sam said he will step away from the sport for the next month or so. Just to rest, he said.
Who wants to bet big brother has something to say about that?
"I always tell him: 'Sam, I don't care if you become an Olympic gold medalist. You're never going to beat me,'" Steve said.