The clock was ticking on Chance Anderson’s wrestling career.
A senior at Mattituck High School, Anderson had just come off a strong season in football as a member of the Greenport Porters when the deadline for wrestling season approached a month later.
While he wrestled as a freshman, he opted not to continue with the sport over the next two years. But now, with one last chance, his skill set was suddenly in high demand for the five-time defending Division II county champs.
It came down to the day of certifications — when wrestlers undergo an assessment to determine a minimum weight they can compete at — before Anderson settled on a decision. His friends on the wrestling team had been urging him to join the team.
“They really needed me and I figured, senior year, why not?” said Anderson, who wrestles in the heavyweight, 285-pound class. “After football I didn’t have anything to do, so this was something that would help me keep in shape. It was good for me to come back.”
In a dual meet against Locust Valley last Thursday, Anderson wrestled his first match since freshman year. If there was any rust, it didn’t show.
He pinned his opponent in 38 seconds, drawing loud cheers and big smiles from his teammates.
“It felt good,” he said. “I didn’t want to be defensive, so I wanted to be aggressive. I just wanted to get a stick as fast as I could.”
Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said they had been trying to convince Anderson to rejoin the team. And when a spot opened up at the heavyweight, it created a greater sense of urgency. Finding wrestlers who can compete at the biggest weight is no easy task for a small school. And for a team with aspirations of competing against the best on Long Island, forfeiting any weight would be a tough blow.
“If you’re giving up six [points] at 285 every match, you’re in a hole before you even blow the whistle,” Dolson said. “It was big to have him.”
As a football player, Anderson earned the nickname “Rhino” for his hard-nosed playing style. The athleticism required to play fullback and linebacker gives him an advantage over many of the wrestlers at the heavyweight class. The biggest challenge for wrestlers at 285 is often stamina.
But football shape and wrestling shape are still two different things.
“In football, you get a break,” Anderson said. “In wrestling, it’s constant movement. Wrestling is a lot more of a mental toughness game.”
Anderson faced a rough road in wrestling as a freshman. He was already big for his age, which meant wrestling at either 195 or 220. At those weights, most of the wrestlers are upperclassmen. So Anderson was constantly going up against more experienced wrestlers.
Now he weighs in at about 267, he said, putting him in good position to match up against most wrestlers he’ll see in his weight class.
“For my weight I’m probably a little more agile than some of the other people,” he said.
As any wrestler can attest, being successful requires intense dedication.
“It’s like a job,” Anderson said. “But it’s good. I don’t dread it.”
Anderson technically earned his first win of the season a week earlier, when the Tuckers competed in a dual meet tournament at William Floyd High School. He received a forfeit win in the team’s dual meet against Comsewogue. Looking ahead, Anderson said he has his sights set on a lot more wins.
“My ultimate goal is to be a county champ,” he said.
Photo caption: Chance Anderson, a Mattituck senior, pins his opponent from Locust Valley in the first period on Dec. 8. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)