Sanchez’s semifinal 14-0 shutout of Clarksburg’s Nick Gonzalez was more dominant than last month, which he won 15-8 for the Springbrook tournament title.
As a junior, Connolly won his first county title, finished third at regions and was sixth at states in the same division where he was second, second and fourth at the same tournaments as a sophomore.
Sanchez and Connolly competed in the county’s most difficult weight class. The division also featured returning state place-winners in Gonzalez, Poolesville’s Colin Savage, Quince Orchard’s Alejandro Lopez and Damascus’ Josh Creegan, who finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth Saturday.
“This was a tough weight class where not one guy is gonna give up,” said Sanchez. “You have to maintain your intensity so you don’t fall below that bar, because in the near future, I may see one of these guys again.”
Their collective credentials are formidable.
Gonzalez was first at counties and regions and third at states a year ago when Connolly lost his fifth-place bout at states in overtime to Savage, a returning sophomore regional champion who was third at counties last season.
Lopez was third at counties, regions and states at 132, and Creegan, third at counties, fourth at regions and sixth at states at 138.
On Saturday, Connolly won his quarterfinal 2-1 over Lopez, avenging a loss by second-period pin before winning his semifinal 12-1 over Savage.
“Connolly really took the whole gym by storm and was really riding the wave after finishing off Lopez and the way he finished off Savage,” said Sanchez. “That gives an athlete a lot of momentum and motivation. When you’re going like that, you can beat just about anybody.”
After pinning Creegan in their quarterfinal and losing to Sanchez, Gonzalez received a forfeit from an injured Savage for third place, and Lopez edged Creegan 4-3 for fifth. Lopez defeated Gonzalez 4-2 earlier this season but did not face him Saturday.
The wrestlers go their separate ways for Saturday’s regional tournaments, with Gonzalez, Connolly and Lopez competing for their schools in the Class 4A-3A West at Clarksburg.
Sanchez and Sherwood are in Class 4A-3A North at Milford Mill of Baltimore County, while Savage and Creegan will travel with Poolesville and Damascus to the Class 2A-1A West at Boonsboro of Washington County.
“I’ve got great people supporting me in my brother, my mother and my dad and my coaches,” said Sanchez. “This really required a lot of heart and poise for me to win. It was a great stepping stone for me, showing that I’m headed in the right direction.”