For any student-athlete, a likely goal is to be able to compete at the collegiate level.
Jones County wrestler Gabe Anderson will now be doing just that following a career in which his willingness to compete was an illustration of perseverance.
In the company of family and friends last Friday, Anderson signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Reinhardt College, completing the journey toward a long-time goal.
“It was pretty relieving to be able to settle down and not stress too much about my future plans. The past few months have really been about what’s best for my future, athletically and academically,” Anderson said. “They offered me a year to redshirt and learn how to balance classes and wrestle, plus get me on a five-year master’s program. That’s an offer that was hard to beat.”
According to his high school coach, Anderson’s impact on the Greyhounds program went beyond simple wins and losses. He also poured time and energy into others on the roster, as well.
“He became a leader for us. He was really good at leading the guys,” said Jay Crook, Anderson’s head coach during the most recent part of his high school career. “When your kids get to the level he is at, they’re not just wrestlers, they become coaches for you.”
Early in 2019, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect for which he underwent surgery the following August. That didn’t deter Anderson, who still wrestled during his junior season and as a senior, placed within in the top eight of his weight class in state competition among a group that included a wrestler that’s headed to Oklahoma State.
“He’s probably a top six (rated) in the state, and one of the guys in his class was No. 2 in the country,” Crook said. “If he’s in a different bracket, he may have placed. Gabe was right there with the other guys.”
Being offered a scholarship is an accomplishment enough for any student-athlete. But for Anderson, it means a bit more given that, despite limited time a year ago, Reinhardt still made the decision to offer him a scholarship. It’s a significance that is not lost on Anderson.
“It means a lot considering that I missed a year. Right after my heart surgery, I was not in my best shape. They’re kind of giving me that year back which is relieving,” Anderson said. “It means a lot. These guys at Reinhardt really took a chance on me. I don’t have credentials most others have because of my heart condition. For them to take this chance on me, it’s special.”