It wasn’t the way James “Jay” Anding dreamed it would be.
Wrestling for the Class 3 170-pound championship, Anding lost by a pin in 1:45 to Belton’s Robert Weber.
“That just wasn’t me out there,” Anding said after the loss.
Weber treated the state bracket as his own personal wrecking ground and Anding actually lasted longer than any of his previous matches. In his other three wins, he needed just 1:47 to vanquish them (one was a medical forfeit).
Still, it was an impressive run for the Pacific junior. He earned his second state medal this season after finishing sixth at 160 last season. He also improved his winning percentage from 51-10 last season to 39-2 this year.
“I’ve got next year for sure,” Anding said. “Everyone is tough up there. You’ve just got to be ready.”
Anding was proud for the way his team finished this season. Pacific went undefeated in the Four Rivers Conference and dominated many of the league dual meets. At the state meet, the Indians finished ninth in Class 3 with 52 points, the best finish in that class among area squads.
“We had a really good run this year,” Anding said. “We’re graduating a few seniors, but I think we could do something at state.”
Anding knows the work for next year’s state tournament has already started.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep working in the offseason and keep getting better and we can medal some more people,” Anding said.
Anding’s two runs to the state podium took entirely different routes. As a sophomore, Anding had to fight back from an opening round loss to make it to the medal rounds.
This time, Anding opened with a pin at the close of the first period (2:00) against Treyvon Ward of St. Charles to advance on the opening day.
In the quarterfinals, Anding earned a 5-3 decision over Braden Danner of Harrisonville. He called that his favorite match of the state tournament.
“I feel like Braden Danner probably,” Anding said. “I wrestled good. He’s a tough opponent.”
In the semifinals, Anding met a familiar foe in Kearney’s Matthew Witthar. The two had met last season in the first-round wrestlebacks. Just as last season, Anding prevailed with a one-point decision. It was 3-2 this season while last year’s bout ended in a 4-3 Anding victory.
Overall, Anding knows he’s doing what needs to be done for another strong run next year.
“I think I’m on the right path. I’ll keep working and doing what I’m doing,” he said. “We’ll keep working and getting stronger.”