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Thomaston's Alan Sanford - The championship wrestler who wants more

POSTED February 16, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

Thomaston's Alan Sanford

                                 The championship wrestler who wants more

            It is in part what separates the good from the great - that seemingly unending search for satisfaction. Lord knows Alan Sanford has every reason and then some to be satisfied, even jubilant. He should be able sit on his porch or walk down the street and luxuriate in an air of accomplishment.

            Yet, Sanford is bugged a bit. He has accomplished much, he wants more. The titles mount, the drive continues. The refusal to settle – it is his drive. It is his frustration. It has brought to him heights few have attained.

            Thomaston High’s senior wrestling phenom sports a resume that most competitors would pay money for just to hold on to for a while – Two Class S state titles, two Griswold Tournament titles, three Pomperaug Tournament titles and after Saturday four Berkshire titles in three different weight classes over the years (103, 119 and 152 lbs.).

            Throw in a 28-1 mark this year and a school career record of 136-19 and you wonder what else is there. Or you think even if nothing else happens, retire his singlet now.

            Heck, it took the announcer about half the day to read the list of accomplishments Saturday as Sanford was introduced before his championship match in the BL Tournament  against Housatonic’s Tyler Spadaccini at Nonnewaug High.

            Sanford doesn’t disregard what he has done. With his victory over Spadaccini, a workmanlike 7-1 decision, he became just the eighth wrestler in BL history to win four titles and just the second Thomaston grappler to be a champion every year, joining Al Rice.

            It is rare air and Sanford knows it. He smiled and talked about not wanting to lose in his final year after winning the first three years as the impressive bruise above his left eye raced to an equally impressive combination of deep blue and purple.

            But there was more and it goes beyond the Berkshire League.  Sanford was adding on to the legacy not creating one. But, he did not look at it that way.  There were some other things going on.

            “Especially this year moving up in weight class, Alan has felt like he has something to prove,” said the Bears first-year coach Shaun Canney.

            But it went deeper than just proving Sanford could continue to dominate after moving up six weight classes from 119 lbs. to 152 lbs.

            “He felt he hasn’t earned respect as one of the top wrestlers in the state which he is,” Canney said.

            So there it is. Sanford wants his due so he pushes and pushes some more. His matches are not about what he did, but what he didn’t do. It is that maddening drive for perfection.

            “You can ask him about any match and he’ll find a mistake,” said Canney

            Sanford blames himself for not reaching one step higher. This is about him not earning the respect he wants. It is not about being ignored, he feels like he has come up short at the wrong time.

            “I’ve never placed in a State Open,” Sanford says. “What kid do you know wins the states and doesn’t place at the Open. “

            You need to finish in the top six at the Open to place. The best Sanford has done is seventh. So he drives and pushes with one chance left.

            It is a challenge made for Sanford’s style. On the mat he is technically sound but more importantly, not very nice.

            “He’s a mean wrestler on the mat,” Canney said. “He’s going to do what he has to to win. He’s not dirty, he’s just going to do his moves as hard as he has to get them to work. Some wrestlers wait for their opportunities, Alan makes his opportunities.”

            Sanford admits that he doesn’t like to lose.

            “I’ll keep it legal, but do whatever I need to do,” said Sanford. “I sometimes feel kind of bad for my opponent after that match.”

            Sanford’s competitiveness has never been more evident than this season. He expected to lose three or four matches because of his dramatic move up in weight class. He has lost just one to a Griswold wrestler he had beaten earlier in the year.

            Wrestling 33 pounds heavier, Sanford has not missed a beat. Or a pin for that matter. He may be a little sorer but certainly no less successful.It all doesn’t surprise former coach John Perrucci.

            “There are a lot of secrets to his success and probably No. 1 is that he is an aggressive competitor,” Perrucci said. “The quality part is that he follows the rules. The competitive spirit is bound by the rules. He is also physically strong and intellectually really strong.”

            So Sanford pushes on. Comfortable in what has been, understanding that he is one of the best wrestlers that Thomaston and the BL have ever produced. But he wants more. He pushes for more.

            It’s what has made him great. Satisfaction can wait. It is an historic resume but there is room for more. He pushes on.         

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