By JEREMY HINES
Elijah Anthony is hoping the fourth time is the charm.
Anthony, a senior wrestler at Frankfort High School, has qualified for state three years in a row. Each time, he’s fallen just short in his Friday night round. He has not placed yet at the state meet.
“He has got to be one of the best state qualifiers that has never placed,” Frankfort coach Steve Cook said. “He has probably had the toughest draw on Friday night, three years in a row. He’s wrestled someone that has placed in the top three of the finals every single year.”
Anthony didn’t have high expectations during his freshman campaign at state. He was wrestling with a broken hand. He drew Mater Dei’s Alec Freeman in the Friday night match. Freeman won 9-1 and went on to place third in the weight class.
“From the get-go I’ve expected to place every year at state,” Anthony said. “My freshman year I had a broken hand, and I knew it would be really tough to place. But my sophomore and junior years I really felt like my coaches took me to a different level, and when I didn’t place it really got in my mind.”
Anthony drew Avon’s Cheaney Schoeff for the Friday night round of state in 2020. It was a close match, with Schoeff escaping with a 7-5 victory. Schoeff then went on to finish second in the weight class.
Last season Anthony drew Brownsburg’s Brady Isom on Friday night. The two battled for six minutes, with Isom emerging with a 1-point victory, 3-2. Isom ended up placing third, and yet again, Anthony went home without placing.
This season Anthony is hoping his fortune starts to change.
“I’ve really tried to focus on all the little things this year,” Anthony said. “I focus on every single match. I work hard in every single practice. I’m just ultra-focused right now.”
Cook can see that focus every day in the Frankfort wrestling room.
“I’ve never met anyone like Elijah,” Cook said. “When he sets his mind to something, he’s going after it. Wrestling is his life.”
Anthony says he’s consumed with wrestling these days.
“All of my time is devoted to wrestling,” he said. “After practice I go help with the middle school team. When I get home, I study film. My whole life is wrestling right now.”
A month ago, Anthony got a scare that he thought might end his wrestling season. He was driving and he lost control of his vehicle. He ended up jumping a curb, knocking down a few trees and coming very close to hitting a telephone pole.
“I seriously had no idea if I was going to wrestle again after that,” Anthony said. “I remember just thinking what if this is the end of my season. I was super nervous about that.”
As it turned out, Anthony did not have any serious injuries from the wreck. He was hoping to wrestle that same weekend, but due to the circumstances he didn’t make weight for that meet. He was back on the mat the next week.
Currently Anthony is 30-0 on the season and ranked No. 6 in the 132-pound class.
Anthony wrestles at the Central Indiana Academy of Wrestling. There, his usual practice partner is the No. 1-ranked grappler in the 132-pound class – Zeke Seltzer.
“I might have to wrestle Zeke in semistate. I really can’t wait to wrestle him.”
Anthony’s wrestling style is like a pit bull that just never stops attacking. He’s aggressive, takes lots of shots and keeps his foot on the gas the entire match. He has learned to stay in better position when attacking as well.
“He’s very aggressive,” Cook said. “He’s non-stop from the whistle. He’s always on the attack, for sure.”
After high school Anthony would like to wrestle in college. He wants to study education and become a high school math teacher. He said his ultimate goal is to coach wrestling.
Anthony started wrestling when he was four but didn’t like it at first. He ended up quitting for a while. He took the sport back up in fourth grade and has been hooked ever since.
“I was in fourth grade and I started going to watch the state finals matches every year,” he said. “I watched Chad Red and Nick Lee, and all those big matches. When I made it there myself, I thought that was the coolest thing. Now, it’s all about business. If I get back to state, I’m there to win it. That’s my mentality.
“I really love wrestling. In this sport there is always something more. You accomplish one goal, and there is another one that comes up. I love that challenge.”