When Tony Sanchez had to come to a wrestling practice with his older brother Alex back in fifth grade, it was with absolutely no intention of participating.
"I was pretty set on basketball," Sanchez said. "That's what I had always played. I brought a ball with me, figuring I would be hanging out in the gym."
Sanchez never made it to the court that day, winding up involved in the workout. The cookies he ate for breakfast were, well, lost in a garbage can.
But there was a reason he came back the next day, other than the fact there was no baby sitter for him at home.
"There was something about being dead tired and throwing up that I liked," Sanchez said. "Wrestling's just gone well with my personality. I was a mean kid. I liked hurting kids, but I couldn't go out and fight in the hallway, or I'd get kicked out of school. I figured I might as well do it where you're allowed to do legal, but not nice moves."
Basketball was soon an afterthought for Sanchez, who became a wrestling regular. He joined the team in middle school and continued all through high school.
"I thought to myself at that time that I'd never see him again," Chesterton coach Chris Joll said. "That clearly was not true."
Instead, Sanchez emerged as somewhat of a prototype for Joll wrestlers. He was a kid lacking superior athletic gifts, but a tireless worker who took his coach's word as gospel and found success by applying it to the mat.
"His work ethic and attention to the technique that I teach are outstanding," Joll said. "He is a team leader, in the room, on the bus, after school, at away meets, on snow days, on the mat and in the preseason. When freshmen are confused ... or when they don't understand what I mean when I say they aren't working hard enough, I set them down and tell them to watch Tony for a few minutes."
That kind of effort comes naturally for Sanchez, who learned about it at home from his dad.
"I was raised that way," he said. "It just carried into here."
Admittedly a fat kid, Sanchez weighed about 180 pounds when he showed up that day in fifth grade. He now tips the scales at a fat-free 167.
"In my mind, the relationship between a wrestler and wrestling can be one of three things," Joll said. "(The third is) you help wrestling and wrestling helps you. Tony is the rarity that fits into (that category). He helps the team and the team benefits from him. Tony is the kind of kid I get the most satisfaction out of coaching. ... If you had 14 of him on your team, it would be really boring, but you would be really good."
After reaching the regional the last two years, Sanchez is aiming for sectional and regional titles and a berth in the state meet, if not a medal there to cap his career. After high school, he plans to attend IU, study criminal justice, enter the military and eventually become a policeman, all things for which his time with Joll has readied him.
"Wrestling makes you tough," Sanchez said. "I'm literally a tougher person. If you can wrestle, you can do quite a bit of other stuff without a problem."