Anderson takes gold: Junior dominates en route to state title
Ryan Anderson was sitting in the Giant Center floor seats designated for competitors at last week’s PIAA wrestling championships and calmly undressed from his singlet and put on a dry warmup and gathered his wrestling bag. He joked with fellow wrestlers and went about his routine just like he has for every other match this season.
The only difference this time was that Anderson had just become a state champion.
“I just realized I’m a state champ,” Anderson said to a small crew on the floor. “I’m a state champ.”
Even though Anderson pummeled the 138-pound 3A competition in Hershey, concluding with a 20-4 technical fall over previously undefeated Seth Koleno of Bald Eagle Area in Saturday night’s finals, the recency of having his hand lifted at the center of the mat, the ceremonial congratulations from the coaches in the corner, led Anderson to blissfully grab a seat on the floor and go through his routine, albeit the most special post match routine he’s ever went through.
“It’s starting to sink in, but I go out there and wrestle like it’s just another match,” said Anderson of winning his first state title. “I’ve always wanted to be a state champ. I didn’t feel any pressure coming into this tournament, but I still feel like I could have wrestled better. I really wanted to get the pin in the finals to get more team points, but I’m really more of a techer. I’m just really happy right now.”
Anderson was the highlight for the Hawks somewhat subdued weekend in Hershey, as they took third in the team standings and placed five wrestlers in the tournament, as Matt Mayer (106, fourth place), Kenny Herrmann (126, fourth place), Cole Handlovic (145, sixth place) and Luca Frinzi (152, seventh place) rounded out the Hawks medal winners.
Mikey Lewis (160) couldn’t wrestle in the tournament because of a skin infection and Robert Spezza (195) went 1-2 and was eliminated early in the tournament.
Still, Anderson’s journey through the tournament went without much resistance, as he tech falled three of his opponents, but grinded out a 3-1 decision over Kiski Area’s Noah Levett in Saturday morning’s semifinal round.
The junior now has a career record of 77-6 and a bronze and gold medal to his name, as he became the 14th Hawk to be crowned a state champion under head coach Jeff Karam and the school’s 26th state champ overall.
The second team East Penn Conference selection (laughable) is ranked third in the country by Intermat and will quickly have more major college eyes set on him moving forward. The path Anderson has taken since being a freshman, where he didn’t make weight at districts to a state champ his junior year is something that Karam has watched develop.
“Ryan has things that a coach can’t teach,” Karam said. “He gets into a routine and he just lets it fly. We learned our lesson from his freshman year when he didn’t make weight and you can tell he has a little extra weight on him now, but the beginning of the year we had him at 132 and he just wasn’t happy. He needs to be in the right frame of mind and we made the decision to put him at 138 and not worry about his weight. He wasn’t hungry this year that’s for sure.”
Anderson’s title now marks the eighth straight years that Becahi has crowned a state champion, something that has almost become a prerequisite for the program.
“You know we really don’t talk about that stuff,” said Karam. “It’s great to put medals around their necks and have them celebrate with their families. They’ve worked hard for these medals and they deserve it.”