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PINTO FEATURE: Anderson brings intensity to Greco-Roman and to his military life

Jon Anderson of U.S. Army wrestles with a single-mindedness that earned him the nickname “Mr. Intensity” while wrestling at WestPoint.

Even now at 28, Anderson shows the same kind of focus and drive to win as he always has.

“I’m kind of the overly pumped-up and intense guy every day in the room,” Anderson said. “That’s kind of a quirk I have, just being super motivated at whatever I’m doing. I think I’ve always been that way.”

Anderson began wrestling his sophomore year of high school, but has only been wrestling Greco-Roman for a year and a half.

“I’m still young in the sport and I’m like a sponge, soaking up technique and training methods and everything else I can,” he said. “I’m really passionate about learning and improving.”

This passion for excellence is how Anderson went from wrestling in a shed using techniques learned from YouTube with “Team No-Name,” a group of friends at Fort Benning, Ga., to placing third in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

“One of my favorite quotes for wrestling is, ‘the will to win is not as strong as the will to be prepared to win.’ You have to set your goals and believe, and not let obstacles get in your way,” Anderson said. “You don’t have to have the best facilities and best training, but if you have the support and you believe, you can find a way to get the training done and you can reach your goals.”

Anderson’s aggressive style got him through with victories in the first two duals at today’s Jack Pinto Cup, an annual Greco-Roman style dual meet at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Anderson lost his third match against Hitoyuki Shimizu of Japan, and his fourth match was a win by forfeit over Kazakhstan, but overall the day was a success with the two wins against Sweden and Lithuania.

This particular tournament was not all about the score, however. Anderson was sure to remember and recognize in whose honor it was being held.

“The Pinto Cup is a great event, it honors a young man that passed away recently in Newtown, Conn.,” Anderson said. “Just to be able to represent his spirit and passion that he brought is kind of what I’ve been thinking about today.”

Anderson said that he tries not to let the losses – big or small – get him down.

“You have to learn from your losses but you can’t dwell on them,” he said. “I take a little bit of time to reflect, see what I did well, what I did wrong, and then I just take the positive and move on. You have to build momentum, learn from everything, and use it to grow, not to hold you back.”

Anderson said he is continually learning and hopes to stay on his upward trajectory.

“I have to work on using my legs and body in the right way. It’s just that it takes some focus and if I do that then my conditioning and my talent will pay off,” he said. “So I need to watch those areas, on my feet it’s just mainly my position and then par terre takes improvement every day.”

Anderson’s straightforward and positive attitude keeps his focus and emotions in check.

“When it comes down to competitions, it’s just about unlocking your potential and going out and doing it, not overthinking it. Stepping on the mat, you want to win, but you have to trust in yourself, trust in your training and go out there and do it,” he said.

Outside of wrestling, Anderson’s passion seeps into everything he does. Anderson’s wife, Molly, and their 16-month-old son Mac, are his biggest supporters, without whom his path would be much rockier.

“My wife has endured deployment and we picked up and moved [to Colorado] recently. She’s just a trooper and really supports me and gives me that extra drive and passion every day,” Anderson said. “The love is overflowing in our house. You can’t measure how much that helps.”

The U.S. Army is a big part of Anderson’s life as well. Planning on making the military a career, Anderson is an infantry captain, but currently working full-time representing the Army and the United States in the World Class Athlete Program.

After 2016, Anderson plans to devote his time back to being an Army officer.

He also is working toward a master’s degree in sports psychology, something that he said has helped his wrestling immensely.

Next up for Anderson is the Dave Schultz Memorial, also in Colorado Springs. His next big goal is to make the U.S. World Team and earn gold at the World Championships this summer. Then he’s concentrating on his second shot at the U.S. Olympic Team.

Again, he focuses on the importance of his family’s backing.

“Everyone is on board and riding the wave to the Olympic gold medal stand,” he said. “I’m ready to do it, and I believe, and it’s going to happen.”
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