Published: March 29, 2014
All that frozen-faced determination and blood-grueling work Discovery Canyon wrestler Sam Turner turned in, all just to get his hands on a state championship, will never be forgotten.
It'll just have to be cherished another day, he says.
At 120 pounds and getting bigger, the sophomore said he doesn't have the time to fully take in the rarity of the moment if he wants to continue on his quest to win multiple high school state titles.
Unlike the Pikes Peak region's other championship in 2014 (Air Academy senior Justin Petrash's title at 285 pounds), this wasn't one of those take-the-medal-and-ride-into-the-sunset moments for Turner.
Not yet at least. Instead, The Gazette's Lower Weights Wrestler of the Year kept the celebration to a hum after that championship Saturday in February, and went back to work on the mat in the next couple of weeks.
"I'm already preparing for next season. I'm wrestling a lot right now and doing everything I can to improve," Turner said Friday, as he was preparing for a wrestling tournament in Las Vegas. "I plan on traveling somewhere to wrestle just about every other week until school is out. I hope to get at least 40 matches under my belt in that time."
That's the kind of focus it took the first-time around.
Turner was so upset after losing in the state finals match in his freshman season, he bull-rushed his way back into wrestling matches and tournaments in the next weeks.
"He was so close to his goal, and then came up just short. That's tough for anyone," Thunder coach Ron Sukle said. "He wasn't one of those kids that was going to lose focus and forget about it. He worked really hard to get back there."
And the next time, Turner won. He beat Pueblo County's Chris Sandoval in the regional and state championships in back-to-back weeks to stand atop the podium at the Pepsi Center.
"Now just do it again," Sam was told by his older brother and mentor Steve Turner, who knows the obstacles that lay on the road ahead after he won a state title at Discovery Canyon his junior year, before taking third during his senior season in 2013.
This won't be the first time Sam will try and take Steve's counsel either. Lurking around the front row at the state finals, Steve screamed to his little brother the usual things heard at a wrestling tournament. "Keep your head up." "Keep the intensity." Things of that sort.
It was a few weeks after that, however, when Steve's advice may have resonated the loudest.
"He told me to just keep my head up and keep going for it," Sam said. "I want to do everything I can to go get it again. That's what some of the best high school wrestlers in the history did, so that would be really great."