story by Todd Habiger
photos by Lori Wood Habiger
PARK CITY — Call him the ice man. St. James Academy senior Sammy Cokeley became a two-time state wrestling champion on Feb. 25 at the Hartman Arena here with a dramatic last-second victory over Goddard High School’s Kendall Frame.
After falling into a quick 1-0 hole, Cokeley never lost his composure and battled back to tie the match at 1-1. With seconds remaining in regulation, he made his move.
“I got him into a position he didn’t like — double underhooks — stepped in with my hip, took him over, got in a scramble. I ended up on top. I won,” Cokeley said.[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”221″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_pro_horizontal_filmstrip” image_crop=”0″ image_pan=”1″ show_playback_controls=”1″ show_captions=”0″ caption_class=”caption_overlay_bottom” caption_height=”70″ aspect_ratio=”1.5″ width=”100″ width_unit=”%” transition=”fade” transition_speed=”1″ slideshow_speed=”5″ border_size=”0″ border_color=”#ffffff” override_thumbnail_settings=”1″ thumbnail_width=”120″ thumbnail_height=”90″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ ngg_triggers_display=”always” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]The win set off a fist-pumping victory celebration that ended with a huge embrace from equally excited teammate Clay Lautt.
“Seeing him happy makes me happy,” said Lautt. “We both work for the same goal every single day of the year.”
St. James Academy wrestling coach Mike Medina couldn’t be happier for Cokeley, who put the team over his own personal goals early in his career.
“His freshman year, Sammy wrestled up two weight classes. He took a thumping for the team,” Medina said. “He wanted to help out, fill a slot and help us win a state championship.”
It worked, as St. James Academy won the Class 5A state team championship in 2014.
Medina said Cokeley has a unique wrestling style that gives other wrestlers fits. Using a more defensive style, Cokeley is able to counter his opponents’ offense with great effectiveness.
“Sammy has a style that you can’t quite teach, you just have to adjust. And his shot defense, you just don’t see it every day,” Medina said. “He can wrestle with anyone in the nation.”