Grady, Jason Anderson ready to tackle one more wrestling tournament

Feb. 15—JAMESTOWN — Grady and Jason Anderson have road-tripped to hundreds of wrestling tournaments in the last 12 years.

Come Thursday, the father and son duo make one final journey that will hopefully end in a state championship title.

It would be quite an end to a story that began decades ago.

Jason started wrestling in elementary school in Carrington when he was in first grade. He started club wrestling in Carrington Pit Crew in fourth grade. Jason won three high school state championships in Carrington and was an All-American at the University of North Dakota during his redshirt freshman year.

Jason stopped competing after UND announced that it was cutting wrestling due to Title IX politics. In 2013, he was inducted into the North Dakota Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013. For the last 25 years, Jason has continued to volunteer in the Carrington and Jamestown wrestling communities.

Jason started coaching in Jamestown about 20 years ago when he was contacted by fellow wrestling enthusiast Jeremy Braun. The duo coached the Taz program together for many years.

Grady was one of those they coached — after a little convincing that is.

"I wasn't all into wrestling right away," Grady said. "My dad tried to get me into wrestling pretty early along with some of our friends but it just wasn't going to happen for me. I don't know why but I refused to go to Taz practice with him."

Jason kept persisting.

"I wanted Grady to develop a great work ethic and learn how to compete," Jason said. "Wrestling has a way of teaching people that you get what you earn."

It was in 2012 when Grady finally agreed to try wrestling.

"My dad brought me into the high school room when I was in first grade just to watch while he worked out with some of the guys," Grady said. "I sat in the corner and watched Coach (Larry) Eslick run his practice and from then on I was hooked. After seeing how cool the high school room was, I knew I wanted to be in there someday."

That's when training started.

Grady was one of 15 youth wrestlers who attended Jamestown Taz Club practice every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Former Blue Jay standouts and state placers Colton Mewes, Aden Braun and Jackson Walters were also among the first who Jason coached.

"They revived youth wrestling in Jamestown," Grady said of Jason and Braun's work at the Taz Club. "It was countless hours in the middle school basement and trips to weekend tournaments that they sacrificed a lot for. It's hard to put into words what they both have done for Jamestown wrestling and the guys who got to learn from them, but it is truly so much."

When Jason was not coaching other kids, Grady got the benefit of his father's expertise.

"I have coached Grady primarily at practices over the years, but we do spar once in a while to develop his technique and make improvements in certain positions," Jason said. "He keeps me young and I keep him humble. We focus on developing new techniques in positions that he may be struggling with on the mat. Grady excels on his feet. He focuses on good defense and footwork to get takedowns."

Grady said he and his father have always had to dance the line between being coach and athlete and father and son.

"He has always wanted the best for me but kids are stubborn and it was hard for me to take criticism from him until I really understood that's what coaches do," Grady added. "When your dad is always right it gets a little old but I've learned to accept it and I am grateful now of course. I owe everything to my dad. Wrestling has taught me lessons I'll carry with me for my entire life."

This winter, there has been no dancing of the line. Jason is not officially coaching his son — rather he is taking in Grady's storybook season from the stands.

"It has been special for me to sit with family and just enjoy watching (Grady) do his thing on the mat this year," Jason said. "I wanted to see the sport from the perspective of a wrestling dad rather than as a coach. I will miss watching him compete for sure. I will miss our sparring sessions in practice as well as the spontaneous ones that break out in the living room from time to time."

Grady has won 40 matches this season. He finished out his conference schedule at a perfect 10-0. Eight of his 10 wins came by the way of a pin. He's only wrestled one match that ended in a win by decision.

Grady said he didn't come into the season expecting to find the success he has.

"I'm just rolling with it now," Grady said. "Growing into my body and finally being able to put technique and strength to use in my matches in my final year has done it for me. I'm believing in what I have and I'm learning along the way.

"Coach Pat (Schlosser) has kept my mindset healthy and having someone who has absolute confidence in you isn't something you can take for granted in wrestling," he said. "He's always trying to improve the team but he does so on an individual level so the season has felt much more personal. My teammates have made this season so fun and that's really all I can ask for."

Grady was crowned the 152-pound champion at last weekend's West Region Tournament, winning by a 1-0 decision over St. Mary's John Richter. Grady is the No. 1 seeded wrestler in his weight class entering the Class A Individual State Wrestling Tournament.

"I have my dad to thank for so much over my wrestling career," Grady said. "As my coach, he is responsible for most of my technique and as my dad he helped me to build a healthy mindset when it comes to competing. Because wrestling is so difficult he's helped me appreciate it as something I get to work hard at and have fun.

"Looking back I am grateful he kept trying when I refused to go to wrestling practice," he said. "It'll be a tough day when I'm done competing but I wouldn't trade being a wrestler and the experiences I've had for the world."