When it comes to making a World Team, it’s not how you do it. There are no “style” points. Rather, it is pretty simple — you do whatever it takes and hope that’s good enough. For Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP), it was good enough. And now he’s as close as ever to making his first US Senior World Team.
The 80 kilogram class at the 2016 US Non-Olympic World Team Trials brought with it a tenuous though tangible level of presumption when it came to who would be standing in the end. Cheney Haight (NYAC), recognized throughout the country for his undeniable toughness and eagerness for hard contact, seemed as if this was going to be his best shot to make his first World Team since 2011. Haight had experienced success before at 80 and is currently a National Team member at 75 kilos by virtue of placing third at the Olympic Trials back in April. But 80 is where he fits best. It’s almost made for him.
Anderson could be seen in a similar light. He’s been lower, he’s been higher, and he’s been at 80, too. However, weight class and size didn’t seem to be his motivating factor heading in. For Anderson, it’s all about earning a medal in Budapest. The only problem with that is it was going to have be Haight he’d have to deal with to take the first step.
The two clashed repeatedly throughout. Haight, looking to find a way to get in enough to find even the slightest opening, was repeatedly denied by Anderson, who would adjust his legs and positioning to maintain balance. This is how it went — Haight employing his patented relentless digging; Anderson grinding through the exchanges for an opportunity he could so something with.
Haight earned a point to open up the scoring. He maintained a 1-0 lead in the second frame although constantly being attended to due to a cut on his chin. The pause in action did little to dissipate the tension. Both athletes appeared fresh, if not weathered as the bout began to wind down. The officials, enforcing an updated rule-set, got involved accordingly, as Haight was knocked for a point to bring the score to 1-1, with Anderson holding criteria.
The ebb and flow of the bout did not seem as if it was going to all of the sudden yield a frantic conclusion. Haight stayed engaged and tried to get to the body. Anderson, for his part, wasn’t satisfied, either. He looked for ways to fight inside, even altering his hip level to come up with hyperactive attempts late. It all came to pass soon enough, with Anderson earning a 1-1 criteria win, moving onto the best of three final.
Meeting him there will be Patrick Martinez (NYAC). Martinez turned back Kendrick Sanders (NYAC-OTS) in a semifinal bout that promised fireworks of its own. Sanders is a thrower and often capitalizes on the tiniest mistakes to come away with one. Thing is, Martinez didn’t make a mistake.
Martinez was cool, steady, and composed, countering a Sanders throw attempt and turning it into points of own. Sanders was undaunted. He looked close to a dynamic attack sequence midway through the second frame, but once again, Martinez used the momentum for himself and went immediately back at Sanders. It was clean, crisp wrestling by both, it’s just that Martinez is clicking on all cylinders right now. A 3-1 victory was the result, giving Martinez a chance to make his third World Team in the same year.