Viroqua High School freshman Cale Anderson took advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime, recently traveling to Tallin, Estonia, representing the United States at the largest youth wrestling competition in all of Europe. The tournament hosts more than 2,000 competitors from 27 countries and was the opening event of the 10-day “Est Wrest-Fest” or Estonian Wrestling Festival, kicking off a yearlong program commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Estonian Republic.
Anderson, the son of Eric and Andrea Anderson, helped the United States win the team championship at the tournament, which featured both Olympic styles of Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling.
Anderson, who set a school record for wins by a freshman at VHS with 49 this season while placing third at the 2018 Division 2 WIAA state tournament at 106 pounds, earned a silver medal in the Greco and the bronze in the Freestyle portions of the international tournament, competing in the 48-kilogram Schoolboy division.
In the Greco competition, held March 31, Anderson, went 5-1, outscoring his first five opponents by combined scores of 49-4, before dropping a 5-4 decision to a Russian wrestler in the championship round. Four of the five wins came by technical fall margins. Anderson defeated opponents from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and the United States en route to the finals.
Anderson also went 5-1 in the Free-Style tournament held April 1, dominating the competition by a 54-2 combined score in the five wins, all of which were by technical fall. The 8-6 loss came in round two at the hands of a Latvian wrestler and dropped Anderson into the consolation bracket. The VHS standout rolled through the other five matches with a combined score of 54-2, including wins over opponents from Belarus, Switzerland, the United States, Estonia and Latvia.
Anderson was selected to the USA team as a result of his reputation as being a good student, a dedicated athlete and someone who will be a positive ambassador of the sport of wrestling and the country. During his time in Estonia, Anderson visited some of the country’s most famous and historical attractions, and experienced different cultures, languages and foods.
In addition, Anderson continued his trip for another four days of training at the Estonian International Training Camp. The USA team was an invitation-only experience and was led by Matt Linland, head USA Greco and Olympic Greco coach, and Gary Mayabb, manager of Greco Roman Operations for USA Wrestling. The 40-member USA team came from, in addition to Wisconsin, Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, Texas, Kansas and several other states. Jared Lewis from Stoughton helped form the contingent.
Four other VHS wrestlers, Ryan and Tyler Hannah, Josh Frye and Aaron Dobbs, join Anderson training Greco and Freestyle at a Combat Wrestling Training Facility in Blue River, led by coach Lucas Steldt.
Anderson’s grandparents are Larry and Sandra Anderson of Ferryville and De Lee Anderson and the late Orvin Anderson of Mt. Sterling.
What was the best part of the trip? “Probably just hanging out with the guys in the hostels…the guys all love wrestling just like I do,” Anderson said.
On why he loves the sport so much, “because you are out there all alone…you are the one who decides how you are going to wrestle.” Anderson added, “What I learned on the trip is that is that you can do anything if you put your mind to it…you decide your future and whether you succeed or fail.”
“This was a once in a lifetime experience and I am very grateful to everyone that supported me,” Anderson said.
The trip was made possible in large part to Anderson’s family and friends who supported him in this opportunity.