So when the clock ran out on his 2012 state championship run, his goal was set. Whatever it would take, Anderson’s mind was locked in on a 2013 state title.
“I was really motivated,” said Anderson, who took third at 113 pounds in 2011 and second at 120 pounds as a junior. “I had a shot at winning the title [as a sophomore] because I beat the guy who won the whole thing a week earlier and I knew last year I could have won too.
“All that just put a fire in my belly [to win this year].”
That fire burned hot, scorching at times, and there was not an opponent in the state that could put it out.
Following a junior season that saw him go 52-3, Anderson achieved absolute perfection as a senior — going 60-0 and seemingly cruising to a 126-pound state championship earlier this month in Macon.
“You could read it on his face, he was determined to be a champion,” said Milton wrestling Coach Billy Bradach of Anderson. “He came so close last year that he not only wanted to win in this year, but do it convincingly.”
Anderson’s 60 victories featured 37 pins, 10 technical falls and only seven matches decided by less than eight points. In Macon he dominated the first three rounds — 18-1, 16-3 and a pin — before topping Grant Aycox of state powerhouse Archer in the final match.
“I knew in the second period I had the match, I just had to control myself,” said Anderson, who edged Aycox 4-3 in the finals. “When my hand was raised [as a state champion], I felt like all my hard work had paid off.”
Bradach said Anderson’s hard-work involved a year of non-stop wrestling that included wrestling camps, clinics, a summer competing with Team Georgia and private training every chance he could.
“There was no question about his commitment,” said the Milton wrestling coach. “When you work hard at something, you gain confidence in your skill. Phillip wasn’t surprised by his success this year, he expected it.”
Anderson finished his high school career with a 194-18 record, going a combined 155-7 in his final three years. He also signed a scholarship to continue his grappling career at Gardner-Webb University.
“His two goals this year were to win state and get a Division-I scholarship,” said Bradach. “He achieved both.”