Pan Am Grappling Blog: Jeff Anderson is a warrior

By By Rusty Davidson, Associated Styles Committee | April 13, 2019, 6:08 p.m. (ET)
APRIL 17… Early morning in Houston. I have to start with a correction. Bre Stikkelman’s husband in NOT a little guy ! I guess I got that impression, listening to her description of their work outs. Then, again, I was “listening” while standing in the customs line, last Saturday morning in Buenos Aires. My apologies.

We finished the Gi segment of the First Ever Pan American Grappling Championship, yesterday afternoon. U.S. athletes competed well and showed a lot of class. I hope you join me in appreciating that ‘Class’ element, as much as medals. Most times, how we act is far more important than what we win.

One American caught everyone’s attention, a little more than the others, yesterday. Jeff Anderson arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday morning, around 9:00. After navigating the hour-long customs line, Jeff got to experience Tuesday morning rush, in Buenos Aires traffic. Our competition site was a good hour and a half from the airport, under ideal conditions.

Anderson arrived at the venue, around 11:30, got his credentialing done and weighed in, jet-lagged, at noon. He got in three tough bouts at 92kg, against much younger opponents.

Jeff is one of those lovers of the sport that has spent the last few years competing, where he can, in the Masters’ Division. At the end of one bout, yesterday, down by four, Anderson finished on top, just seconds away from submitting his opponent when time expired. Pretty scrappy !

What impressed us all was the fact that Jeff got to Buenos Aires and competed well. A resident of a small town in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan, Anderson drove to Chicago Friday evening. After his flight was cancelled, due to weather, he began a frantic search for alternate routing to get to Buenos Aires.

No luck. We found out, Sunday, that Jeff simply could not get to Argentina in time to compete in Monday’s No-Gi championship. We all just, sort of, assumed that Anderson would bail on the fight with the airline and drive home to Zeeland.

Nope. Jeff persisted and found a way. Listening to the other Grappling athletes, throughout the Pan American Championship, I find this persistence the rule, not the exception.

Before I close, I want to slide in my deep gratitude to the Argentine Federation and all the individuals who went out of their way to make things easy for us. I especially appreciate Luz and Ruth for helping me get directly from the finals to the airport !

All of us need to appreciate the Athletes that represent USA Wrestling’s Grappling side. There are much easier, less expensive means for Grapplers, in our country, to compete. These few have been diligent in building the USAW brand, in this world-renowned Associated Style.

As evinced by the existence of this first Pan American Championship, their belief in the program, in what UWW and USAW stand for, is catching on. Athletes, please accept my personal Congratulations and Thanks. ‘Til next time…


APRIL 15 - Breanna Stikkelman, Warrior Princess

 By the time you read this, you will have already digested Gary’s story about our No-Gi. We had a great day.

Not sure how many of you are old enough to remember the TV show, Xena – Warrior Princess. So, for those of you, too young, “Google It!”

I’ve been on the mat, with Bre Stikkelman, for a few years. I’ve always known she’s a fierce competitor, with a spicy attitude. Walking the streets of the Nunez neighborhood, in Buenos Aires, for the last couple of days, I have really come to appreciate what drives this brilliant young athlete.

Bre wrestled in high school in California and still lives in Ventura. As she earned her EMT credential, she migrated to Grappling. This is a good fit, as far as I can tell. Bre enjoys the act of submitting opponents.

I suspect, with her duties as an EMT, Bre builds up some stress through her tour. Being able to roll, in the small club she works out in, no doubt makes it easier on her patients and co-workers.

Recently married, Bre’s husband is in the military. That means they’re really not together all the time. When they are together, many of their hours are spent working out. Being a “smaller” guy, Bre’s husband is able to roll with her. She says is contrasting style, as a wrestler has really been good for her.

This First Ever Pan American Championship for Grappling has been a sparsely populated event. That said, the quality has been high… extremely high. So, when organizers got the green light, from UWW, to combine some weight classes for added competition, some athletes said, “No, Thank You. Those athletes at the next weight class are too big.

When Breanna Stikkelman was offered the chance to compete at both 58kg and up at 64kg, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Hell yeah ! Now I can go home with four gold medals, instead of just two”.

Bre won Two Gold Medals, today. She’s half way there. Breanna Stikkelman is a Warrior.

Fair warning: There will be one final chapter of this piece. However, I go directly from competition to airport, tomorrow evening. So, it will likely be sometime Wednesday, before I can get it to Gary. Ciao.

Photo above of Breanna Stikkelman and Maja Morgan of Team USA at the Pan American Grappling Championships, courtesy of Rusty Davidson.

APRIL 14 - Warriors bounce back

How badly out of touch am I ? Did you notice that I started yesterday’s Blog with the date March 13, rather than April ? Editor Gary didn’t notice… don’t know if that’s a good thing, or bad.

It is, indeed April. Taxes are due tomorrow and next week is Easter.

One of the U.S. athletes, in Buenos Aires, is also one of my favorite humans on the planet. Gabe Beauperthuy. Gabe has been named USA Wrestling’s Associated Styles Athlete of the Year, both of the last two years. There’s a reason for that.

Gabe had a successful career, wrestling for the military, as a younger man. Since then, having become addicted to the Wrestling Lifestyle, Gabe has trained and competed in pretty much every style that United World Wrestling embraces.

I’ve been with Gabe Beauperthuy, a lot of days in a lot of places. His message, regarding why he does this, is simple and consistent. He flat out loves it!

Gabe’s got a lot of ‘Hardware’ to show for his efforts. But, that’s not what he tells people about. His stories, invariably, are about the great friends he’s met, the wonderful sites he’s seen, and the magnificent adventures Wrestling has allowed him to live. I love this man !

Gabe, in case you’ve forgotten, was the lone American that got stranded by Saudi Arabian Bean-Counters. He was left at the check in counter, in Denver, with an airline itinerary that had suddenly been voided. Gabe did not get to compete in the Nomad Universe.

The point of that is that, here he is, happy healthy, ready to rock. I know, more than most, how heart-broken Gabe was, just a month ago. Gabe is proud to be representing us, as Americans, in this First Ever Pan American Grappling Championship. Warriors DO bounce back !

Gabe has, rather easily and rather instantly, emerged as our unofficial Team Captain. This man is so upbeat and positive, he allows our younger and somewhat more tightly wound athletes a wider comfort zone. This breeds greater self-confidence, which translates into better performance and results.

Being the simpleton that I am, I’ll measure Gabe Beauperthuy for you. My darling wife, Eva has an eleven-year-old Grandson, who’s pretty savvy about people. Davian has traveled with us to more than a few championships.

We’ve gotten used to him wandering off, for hours, to share life stories with Gabe Beauperthuy. This young kid absolutely adores this giant of a man. You know what? I trust Davian’s instinct.

Gabe Beauperthuy is a Warrior. Ciao.

MARCH 13 (ACTUALLY APRIL 13); Chapter 1 - Road Warriors

Here we go. Another adventure. This weekend is the prelude to the 2019 Pan American Championship, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Grapplers from Pan American countries will warm up the venue and spectators. Later in the week, the Olympic Styles: Greco; Women; Freestyle; take over. We all just finished various overnight flights to get here.

I know that USA Wrestling’s Taylor Miller will bring her professional journalistic skills to Buenos Aires, during the Olympic Styles. Stay tuned for Taylor’s vibrant and informative style.

For now, you’ll have to put up with my rambling, story-telling-on-the-porch approach. I write, mostly to remind myself how lucky I really am just to be here. I also feel a responsibility to our athletes, especially those in the so-called Associated Styles.

These are the “Warriors” who sacrifice, the old-fashioned way, to train, get places, and represent our Flag and our Values. All of these athletes pay their own transportation, housing, expenses, not to mention taking time away from work and family. They remind us the definition of ‘Amateur’… ‘For the Love’.

After clinics, training, weigh ins, and technical meetings tomorrow, Grappling competition will commence Monday. Grappling with No Gi (no jacket) goes first. USA Wrestling will be represented by two women: Maja Morgan at 53 kg and Breanna Stikkelman at 58 kg.

USA men, competing Monday, include: 62 kg - Aaron Johnson; 66 kg – John Morgan; 71 kg - Luis Quinones; 84 kg - Jon Becerra; 84 kg - Anthony Fox; 92 kg - Carlos Soto; 92 kg - Jeff Anderson; Over 100 kg - Gabe Beauperthuy. Note that each Pan American nation is allowed two entries per class.

Tuesday’s Grappling competition adds the Gi, or jacket, similar to that of sombo or judo. The ability to grip the jacket adds another dimension to the technique of No-Gi Grappling. U.S. line-ups are identical in both styles, here in Buenos Aires.

Stay tuned. I’ll get you a quick glimpse at a couple of these Warriors, as we get a little closer to Monday’s first whistle.