Whether he was running in place, shaking out his toes or pinning his opponent, Jon Anderson would not stop moving during the Dave Schultz Memorial International. The 163-pound Greco-Roman wrestler won six straight matches to take bronze in Thursday’s competition, where 14 countries were represented.
A graduate of West Point and active in the Army for six years, Anderson seemed to use a soldier’s instincts to fight through his matches, during which he totaled three five-point throws. Though he had never recorded a five-point throw in a tournament, he was making them look easy.
Anderson threw open palms at opponents like boxing mitts. He splayed opponents, performing suplexes and launching them backward so they landed on their head. He threw opponents out of the ring on and off their feet.
His aggressive style was not just exciting to watch, but often made you fear for his opponent’s lives. When he beat fellow American Tanner Andrews, he bulldozed him to the Olympic Training Center mat, slamming Andrews’ head. The medical staff checked Andrews for a few minutes before clearing him to resume, but Anderson had broken Andrews physically and beat him in only two periods.
What was equally impressive, though, was when he wasn’t dominating, he dug deep and won matches late. In round five of consolation, Anderson faced elimination. He lost the first period then was down three points in his second. While other athletes might fold, Jon responded with a four-point throw that pinned his opponent and ended the bout.
“He relies on his cardio that can carry him into deep water with anybody,” his father, Greg Anderson, said. “If he can get into the third (period) with anybody, I feel like he has a good chance with anybody in the world.”
Anderson, however, did suffer a loss to Christoffer Nilsson of Sweden in his second match, which was why he had such a high number of matches in the consolation bracket.
“It’s purely technical, as I looked at it,” Anderson said about his loss. “I fix that one little thing, I’m beating that guy every time.”
Anderson was disappointed to lose since he had defeated Nilsson at the Haparanda Cup.
“His needs to keep improving, what I like to call his wrestling dance, so he gets a little more rhythm, a little more fluid movements in his attack,” national Olympic coach Steve Fraser said. “He’s going to naturally clean his movements up so that he’s keeping a better position up while he’s doing that fast, constant attack.”
According to Fraser, if Anderson puts in the time to improve, he could be in the running for an Olympic medal down the road. But Anderson isn’t thinking so distantly. Because of Anderson’s time in service, the 28-year-old has had less experience than most wrestlers he faces and will continue developing. He’ll be back at the OTC, determining his mistakes and fixing them.
“He’s gonna hit practice hard tomorrow and practice his mistakes,” said Capt. Morgan Simpson, a friend of his from the Army. “His conditioning is phenomenal. That’s why he’s winning. His heart.”