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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Weighty decision

Joe Everson Correspondent

When high school wrestlers and their coaches toss around words like discipline, self-respect and determination, you know they don’t do it lightly.

So it’s not really much of a surprise to learn that Deer Park senior Aaron Anderson dropped down one weight class this year not to avoid some of the toughest wrestlers in the state, but rather to test himself against them.

Anderson, a four-year varsity athlete, has been to the state AA tournament in his previous three seasons, placing second as a sophomore at 112. And his coach, Matt Jorgensen, thinks he has the potential to be on the mat in the championship match this year as well.

If he is, there’s a good chance it will be against a Great Northern League opponent, Lakeside’s Levi Jones, who came from two points down in the final 30 seconds of their match earlier this season to defeat Anderson.

“Levi’s the main reason I came down in weight,” Anderson said. “I always wanted to wrestle him, and the way I wrestled in our match showed me that I can beat him, so I’ll stay at 125.”

The two could face each other as many as three more times – at district, regionals and in the state tournament. Jones, believes Anderson, is the favorite to win the state championship.

Anderson has been wrestling since he was 5 years old, beginning with the Colville Mat Rats. Although he played a little middle school football, wrestling has always has been his athletic love. He’s usually attended a couple of camps every summer since eighth grade and competed in an age-group national tournament in Alabama several years ago as well.

“Aaron is one heck of a wrestler,” said Jorgensen, who is the Stags’ fourth head coach in four years. “Before I was the head guy here, I’d heard from others about his work ethic. I’ve got a great group of seniors, but the way he works is an example to everyone.”

“I just try to encourage the guys the best I can,” said Anderson. “I try to get ‘em pumped, to be a good example to the young guys just coming into the program. Back in the early ‘90s, Deer Park had a strong program. It went through a few down years, but things are coming back now.”

Anderson has a 20-3 record so far this season, including 14 victories by pin. He won the Deer Park Invitational and was named outstanding wrestler and went 5-0 at the recent Post Falls tournament.

He’s trying to make up for a disappointing junior year, when he missed half the season with torn ligaments in his ankle. He returned in time for the district tournament, but says he wasn’t fully recovered and wasn’t in good shape. “I couldn’t train, couldn’t run, couldn’t exercise the way I wanted to when I was injured.”

He’s a fierce competitor, said Jorgensen, who praised Anderson’s composure after the last-second loss to Jones.

“I’m always upset when I lose,” Anderson said, “but it comes down to whether I feel I’ve wrestled my best. I gave it my all against Levi and came away knowing that I just have to work harder to beat him.

“Wrestling has given something to look forward to every day,” he said. “If I’ve had a hard day, I can take it out on the mat. I did as well as I did sophomore year because I wanted it so badly.

“It’s also taught me discipline and self-respect, not just on the mat but in other ways. I try handling things better, and I keep my grades up because of wrestling, which helps me to be dedicated in the classroom as well.”

Anderson hopes to wrestle at the college level: “Any place I can, all I want to do is wrestle.”

Whatever he does next year, though, he knows what he wants for the rest of this one.

“My goal is to get better right until the end. When I walk off the mat that final time, all I want to know is that I gave 100 percent.”