Sanford's Sam Anderson works for a pin during a match last week against Wells.  Pat McDonald/Journal Tribune

Sanford’s Sam Anderson works for a pin during a match last week against Wells. Pat McDonald/Journal Tribune

The Sanford wrestling program has taken a giant step forward over the last couple seasons. A major part of that has been the leadership of former head coach Nate Smith and current head coach Brent Coleman and assistant coach Paul Rivard.

Another huge part of the Spartans’ recent rise has been the performance and leadership of senior Sam Anderson.

Anderson captured a state championship last year as a junior and he is now looking to make it back-to-back gold medals — and he is also on pace to break the school record for career wins.
The standout spoke with me during a break at Wednesday’s tri-meet at Noble, and opened up about everything from his earliest days on the mat to where he may end up wrestling at the next level.

Here is the complete interview:

PM: When did you start wrestling?

SA: I started wrestling in fourth grade. I wrestled my whole fourth grade year and then my fifth grade/sixth grade year I got injured, and then I wrestled ever since.

PM: Is that when you really got into it after the injury?

SA: Yea, sixth grade year I thought I was going to go undefeated but after my first tournament I actually dislocated my arm — you see that scar right there — so that was unfortunate. But I fell in love with wrestling and always wanted to come back.

PM: So there was never a point where the injury almost stopped you from wrestling?

SA: Not at all, it’s just part of the process. I was wrestling a kid that was bigger than me that’s why it happened, but you win some, you lose some … you always learn from the sport, you never take a loss, you always learn.

PM: What were your goals when you got to high school?

SA: My goal, as a freshman, was to place at the state tournament. I took fourth and I was so happy with that. My sophomore year, I wanted to get to the New England tournament and I was able to do that. Then junior year, the sky was the limit, it was time to really break out, and prove myself and try to win the state title and I actually got it.

PM: What did that mean to you when you won the state title?

SA: Just looking at the room full of alumni that always stops by and the very, very great tradition that Sanford has, it’s just great to put myself up with some of those guys. I’m going for that wins record too, I’m 22 away.

PM: Who has the record now?

SA: Doug Williams. He’s a three-time state finalist and was a state champion as a sophomore.

PM: Obviously after winning a state title, the target is on your back a little more this year, what has your preparation been like for this year?

SA: For the first time I’ve actually dropped every other sport and just focused on wrestling. I think I got about 45 or 50 offseason matches. It’s about hitting your moves and not having to worry about other people. It’s about sticking to the Xs and Os and the stuff that works at the college level, at the national level, it’s just about finding yourself in the sport and sticking to it, and really getting those reps that you need to get. That’s what offseason wrestling is all about.

PM: You are going up a weight this year, right?

SA: Yea, 170 (pounds) is the goal. You might see me at 160 for a couple tournaments, but I’m not about cutting weight. I’m about being relaxed and hoping to get on the New England podium, that’s what I want to do.

PM: How big is it to see guys like Marshwood’s Brad Beaulieu and Skowhegan’s Cody Craig actually go down to New Englands and have success?

SA: It’s huge, I mean Maine wrestling I’ve been a huge fan, doesn’t matter what the school is, every Maine guy I’m following and seeing how they score. To have those names like Brad Beaulieu and Cody Craig that you see winning (their) bracket and seeing them at the top, it really makes you think that I’m wrestling in the same gym as this guy. He’s winning this bracket, I have a chance to win (my) bracket, too. Why not me?

PM: Where are you looking at as far as colleges?

SA: I’ve been talking to a couple schools. Roger Williams University is a good school with coach (Jon) Egan. And then (University of Southern Maine) with coach (Mike) Morin, I’ve talked to Springfield College, I’ve talked to New England College, I’ve talked to Castleton University, so kind of the Division III wrestling schools in the area. I think D3 would be the way to go. I want to get an education degree.

PM: USM is kind of loaded right now with local guys, have they recruited you a little bit?

SA: I was able to watch a practice and I’ve had multiple conversations with coach Morin. It’s amazing what they’re doing up there. Just that core group of guys, freshman, sophomores, that nucleus that they have, it’s crazy how they are going to evolve in the next couple years. I think they will be working to the top.

— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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