No Fauquier County wrestler had ever earned all-America honors at the United States Marine Corps Cadet/Junior National Championships held by USA Wrestling.
Until last week.
Sam Fisher, a Fauquier High rising junior and member of the local Birds of Prey Wrestling Club, smashed through that barrier twice during the last week at the Super Bowl of interscholastic wrestling.
“I was hoping for all-American,” he said, “but I had no idea I would do that well.”
A member of the 16-year-old Team Virginia Cadet squad, he began his week-long foray in the 182-pound classification by taking seventh in the Cadet freestyle discipline. He finished with a 5-2 record as the top eight wrestlers were named all-Americans.
Fisher then launched into the Greco-Roman competition, winning his first four matches to reach the championship semifinals. He lost a 4-0 decision before later pinning Minnesota’s Macaron Kukowski for the bronze medal.
“I was really happy with his results and also with the effort,” said Doug Fisher, Sam’s father and Fauquier High’s wrestling head coach. “He trained hard for it.”
The annual event held in the North Dakota State’s Fargodome draws the best high school wrestlers from across the nation. Forty-eight of 50 states sent teams this year via regional qualifying events.
“The best kids in the country are there,” Doug Fisher said. “It is ‘The’ national tournament.”
Sam Fisher entered as the No. 7 seed in the freestyle field and No. 6 as a Greco-Roman wrestler.
“I felt I could have done better in freestyle,” he said. “I was really hoping to make the finals.”
His goal was to place among the top five.
“I felt that’s where I was talent-wise,” he said. But “I still reached all-American status. … I hadn’t reached that milestone before. That was a big weight off my shoulders.”
Fisher won his opening three marches with 13-2, 12-0 and 12-1 technical falls to put him against No. 2 seed Rocky Elam from Missouri. Elam took an 8-1 decision to send Fisher into the consolation bracket, where he split two matches before beating Colton Hawks, 6-2, for seventh place.
“I was a little concerned, especially in freestyle, the way the seeding worked out,” Doug Fisher said. “I knew if he was going to place he would have to go through some good kids … in the bottom half of that bracket.”
In the Greco-Roman competition, Sam Fisher had four consecutive victories before meeting Kansas’s Kyle Haas in the championship semifinal. Hass won 4-0, but Fisher immediately regrouped to win the consolation semifinal by pinning Kukowski in 3 minutes, 45 seconds for third.
“I didn’t know how well I would do,” Fisher said. “I’m not a big Greco person, but then again not many people are.
“For Greco, it’s more of a mindset,” he said. “Going out there and staying in good position and bringing the fight. … It’s important to trigger first. That’s something I was working on the entire time.”
Last summer, Fisher gained valuable experience during his first trip to Fargo as a 15-year-old. He recorded a 3-2 record in both disciplines.
Then, during the high school season, Fisher won the Class 4 state championship at 170 pounds after winning the same title at 160 during his freshman season.
The Birds of Prey also helped Fisher prepare for the Fargo nationals by spending appreciable time working on freestyle and Greco-Roman over the years.
“That wasn’t something we did as team collectively,” Doug Fisher said. “We could see the fruits of our labor.
“That was momentous,” he said of his son becoming an all-American. “To have someone who came through our club to be able to go out there and place.”