West Point graduate Jon Anderson’s ultimate wrestling goal is to win a gold medal while representing the United States in Greco Roman action at the Olympics. While he was an alternate for the Red, White and Blue this summer during the London Games, he assured himself of a chance to represent his country in 2012 international competition when he captured the 74 kg title at the World University Team Trials in Colorado on Saturday. (For a closer look at Anderson and his Army background, see this article.)
Anderson earned his ticket to October’s World University Championships in Finland in dominating fashion, outscoring his opponents 41-1 on the day. He began by sweeping his three bouts in the morning Challenge Tournament without yielding a point to make it into the best two-out-of-three championship series.
“I had a lot of fun every match,” Anderson said. “My technique felt great and I stayed in control. Coach Lewis said right before the tournament to take it one period at a time, one match at time. I knew that I had to be in the moment for every moment that I was on the mat, and that’s what I did.”
Anderson’s opponent in the finals was Tanner Andrews, who earned an automatic bid after winning the University Nationals crown a few months ago. The two certainly aren’t strangers. Andrews defeated Anderson at the Dave Schultz Memorial early in 2012 and Anderson returned the favor at the Olympic Trials in the consolation bracket, pinning Andrews on his way to a third place finish and a spot as an Olympic alternate.
The Army graduate was in control from the start and took the first bout, 1-0, 7-0. In the second match, Anderson dropped the first period when he was unable to turn Andrews in par terre, however he won the second and third stanzas 3-0 and 4-0 on the strength of multiple takedowns and turns.
“Tanner’s a great competitor,” Anderson said of his opponent. “He always comes out and fights hard. I knew it would be a scrap. But I thought I was able to win it with my positioning, strength and conditioning.”
For Anderson, who thanked his family and friends for their “continuous awesome support”, the work has just begun.
“I had high aspirations for this weekend,” he said. “I’ve been training really hard without let up since the Olympic Trials. I feel like I still have a lot of room to improve and I want to improve every day. Things are continuing to click for me.”
He’ll keep that progress going, starting with a new training cycle at Fort Carson this week.
“I’ll be doing two workouts a day, with strength training, cardio and lots of wrestling. My focus now is on winning the gold medal in Finland. I feel like it makes no difference where I’m wrestling or who I’m wrestling. I need to focus on my technique and my match every time. That’s my mentality. If I make my opponent wrestle my game, I don’t think anyone can hang with me.”
While Anderson spent time abroad during his military service, the trip to Finland will be his first overseas tour wrestling for his country. He feels confident that it will be the first of many appearances for the United States.
“I’m very excited to represent my country in a world championship, whatever level that is,” he said. “In October, it will be in Finland for the World Universities, then I expect next summer it will be at the Senior Worlds. And in 2016, I expect it to be in Rio, winning the gold medal there.”
Anderson wasn’t the only wrestler with New York ties on the mats in Colorado on Saturday. Cornell All-American Frank Perrelli took third in the 55 kg Freestyle Challenge tournament, avenging his three period opening round loss to Kyle Hutter by defeating the former Old Dominion grappler 5-0, 1-0 in the bronze medal bout. Perrelli pinned Panther Wrestling Club’s Cruse Aarhus to earn his shot at third.
Also taking third was Hofstra signee Dwight Howes, who more than held his own in a loaded 84 kg Freestyle Challenge bracket that included four NCAA All-Americans. The Colorado native, who will spend this season at the Olympic Training Center, was tested right away, topping 2012 NCAA 184-pound third place finisher Austin Trotman in the first round before dropping a tight match to former Oklahoma State national runner up Clayton Foster. Howes responded with a two-period decision over Navy’s Peter Huntley before defeating Trotman a second time for bronze.
Another Empire State native battling for third place in the Challenge tournament was All-American Kyle Borshoff at 66 kg, an additional weight featuring several accomplished NCAA grapplers. The former American Eagle began his day by beating Simon Kitzis and Cole Von Ohlen before falling against NCAA champion Frank Molinaro. In his first consolation contest, Borshoff faced another national title winner, Kellen Russell of Michigan, and came out on top, 3-1, 0-1, 3-1. In his final bout of the day, he was edged 1-0, 1-0 by Adam Hall to grab fourth.
Hunter College’s Oliver Lopez, who previously competed for McKee High School in Staten Island, also took third place — in the Challenge tournament at 60 kg in Greco.
Full results are available on http://www.trackwrestling.com