Fifth-place for Sanchez

Gilroy native and Cal State Bakersfield senior Matt Sanchez

Gilroy
– The Garlic City’s own Matt Sanchez ended his Cal
State-Bakersfield wrestling career in one of the best ways
possible: with a win.
Gilroy – The Garlic City’s own Matt Sanchez ended his Cal State-Bakersfield wrestling career in one of the best ways possible: with a win.

In St. Louis Saturday, Sanchez capped off a 41-8 season with a fifth-place All-American finish at the NCAA Championships in the 133-pound division.

“It’s always a great result to end with an odd number (finish) rather than an even number (finish) because it means you finished with a win,” said Sanchez’s mother, Diana Sanchez-Bentz.

In his first match of the day, No. 3 seed Mack Reiter of Minnesota pinned Sanchez in 1:18, the first time the tenth-seeded Sanchez had been pinned all season. Early in the match, however, it was Sanchez who nearly took the advantage.

“In the beginning, I tripped him up and I thought I got him,” Sanchez said.

But then Reiter escaped, took the top position and pinned Sanchez moments later. Reiter went on to finish in fourth place.

Sanchez rebounded in the fifth place match, defeating the eleventh seed, North Carolina’s Evan Sola, by a 10-5 margin. After Sola gained a 3-2 advantage in the first period, Sanchez chose the bottom position to start the second period. Sanchez pulled a reversal and turned Sola for two- and three-point near falls to build a 9-3 lead going into the third. It was enough to hang on through the final period for the win.

“I was just glad to beat him,” Sanchez said. “Especially since he had beat (Oklahoma State’s Nathan Morgan), who I had lost to (in the second round).”

A highlight of the weekend for Sanchez was when he beat No. 8 seed Scott Jorgensen of Boise State, to whom he had lost in the Pac-10 championship match, and followed through on a prediction he had made in an interview during the conference tournament.

“Yeah, that was pretty sweet,” said Sanchez about beating Jorgensen. “One of my buddies reminded me that during the Pac-10 Tournament I told a guy that was interviewing me that I would beat Jorgensen in the (NCAA) Championships.”

Sanchez, a Bellarmine alumnus who earned All-American honors with an eighth-place finish last year, finished his career sixth on the all-time win list at Cal State-Bakersfield with 155 and third on the Roadrunners’ list of career pins with 36.

Though his career as a wrestler is over, Sanchez plans to coach the sport at the college level after he graduates in May with a degree in history. He’s currently entertaining coaching offers from Cal State-Fullerton, Cal Poly, Iowa State (where he spend a year as a red-shirt freshman) and Oregon State.

Leave your comments