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Wrestling for the Anderson Family Honor : To San Clemente Sophomore, Dad Is Toughest Foe

February 28, 1987|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | Times Staff Writer

A Southern Section wrestling championship last weekend wasn't enough to satisfy Dru Anderson, a 168-pound sophomore at San Clemente High School.

So to quench his thirst for glory, fame and family honor, he went after the ultimate prize in the Anderson household: the Garage World Championship.

Last Sunday, only a day after beating Warren's Eric Thursen, 13-6, for the 3-A title, Anderson squared off against his father, Bob, 43, in the garage next to the Anderson house.

Father and son had wrestled countless times before, with the elder Anderson winning all but one of the matches, which are named after the battle site.

But this one was extra special. There was more at stake than family bragging rights.

This was Southern Section champ vs. Southern Section champ.

Bob Anderson won the 1962 Southern Section wrestling title when he was a 178-pound senior at South Torrance High.

And now, 25 years later, it was time for Dru Anderson to show who the real champion of the house was.

Janet Anderson, wife of Bob and mother of Dru, took her usual position at mat-side, timer in hand. Bob and Dru would go for three five-minute periods--a much more grueling match than high school's three two-minute periods.

Dru had an 11-3 lead after two periods. But Bob, who wrestled competitively until he was 35 and had won six national championships in the open senior division, stormed back.

The score was 13-11, in favor of Dru, when Bob cradled his son and was close to putting him on his back late in the match. Dru fought to escape, but in doing so twisted his left ankle and knee.

The fight was stopped. Dru was declared the winner.

But he almost came up the big loser.

Anderson didn't practice at full strength for three days this week and probably won't be 100% for today's Southern Section Masters Meet at Fountain Valley High.

But, hey, he beat his old man. And that's no small accomplishment.

Bob, a nutritional fitness consultant who assists San Clemente Coach John Owens, is a muscular 200-pounder who would probably fare well against many of today's top high school wrestlers.

How good is he?

"I would say he could take state," Dru said.

Dru's abilities have obviously progressed since he started wrestling in sixth grade.

"That was back when he had to get a takedown to get something to eat," Bob said.

For several years, Bob used to let Dru score points or put moves on him to gain confidence but he always won the match.

Then one day last year, Dru put Bob on his back with a cradle and pinned him.

"I said, 'Let's try that again, I wasn't ready,' " Bob said. "He slapped me on my back and pinned me again. I couldn't just let him get a move and get out of it anymore. That was a big surprise."

For the past two summers, Dru has wrestled internationally, winning a gold medal in his Greco-Roman age-group division in the 1985 Junior Pan Am Games at Cali, Colombia, and winning two golds (Sambo and Greco) and a silver (Freestyle) in the 1986 Junior Olympics at St. Louis.

As a 168-pound freshman last season, Dru placed fourth in the 3-A meet before losing in the first round of the Masters.

The Garage World Championships have never been the same. Now, there are fierce battles between two intense competitors.

Bob said that if Dru wrestled as tough in his high school matches as he does against him, he'd be a three-time state champion.

"They're classics," Bob said of their matches. "They ought to be filmed sometime."

Saturday night was the highlight on a not-so-classic season for Dru. He began the season with the flu and then bruised his knee in a freak skateboard accident. He had been watching some kids in action on a skateboard ramp when a board got away and crashed into his leg.

After a two-week absence, Anderson lost a 167-pound wrestle-off to Jason Ruff and spent several weeks on the junior varsity team.

Anderson then won a wrestle-off to earn the 177-pound spot before the Tritons began their league dual-meet season in January, but he lost two matches in the heavier class.

Ruff then moved up to 177, leaving the 167-pound spot for Anderson. After losing his first match in the California Invitational Tournament, he won his next seven matches, including one to win the South Coast League title.

Saturday, he won four matches, one by default, to win the 3-A title. He wrestled a near-perfect match in the championship.

"I wasn't sure he'd come along that far, but he looked as good in the finals as he's ever looked," Owens said.

Anderson will be tested early today. If he wins his first-round match, he'll face El Dorado's Todd Tomazic, the defending state champion, in the second round.

That would be a rematch of last year's first-round Masters match, one that Anderson would prefer to forget.

"It was a pretty quick match," Anderson said. "I threw him and he landed on his back. I really can't tell you what happened next. I blinked and I was on my back. He pinned me."

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