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Undefeated at FMS, Anthony prepares for high school

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STATE CHAMPION: Frankfort’s Elijah Anthony stands atop the podium after winning the Indiana State Wrestling Association Freestyle State Finals earlier this year. Anthony also won the Greco-Roman state championship.
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FRANKFORT’S CHAMP: Elijah Anthony poses with his weight class bracket after winning the Frankfort Middle School Invitational at 90 pounds.
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CONFERENCE CHAMPION: Elijah Anthony poses for photos after winning his third consecutive Sagamore Athletic Conference middle school championship.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

When Elijah Anthony begins his freshman year at Frankfort High School this fall, the Hot Dogs will be getting a wrestler who went through all three years of middle school without losing a match. In fact, through his run of 69 wins and zero losses while wrestling for Frankfort Middle School, Anthony was only scored on a handful of times.

“He never was taken down in middle school,” Anthony’s father, Frank, said. “Elijah always goes out and gets four to five takedowns to start a match,” Frank Anthony said. “He led his middle school team every year in takedowns. He is very good from his feet. That is why he is so good with freestyle (wrestling).”

Outside of the school season – in which he was the Sagamore Athletic Conference champion – Anthony won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman state championships and was a folkstyle runner-up at the 94-pound weight class in the Cadet Division. He is also a two-time Nuway All-American, a Bluegrass National Champion in 2016, a runner-up at the prestigious Ohio Tournament of Champions this year and a three-time member of Team Indiana.

Currently ranked the No. 21 middle school wrestler in Indiana, Anthony is in Spokane, Washington right now to compete in the Cadet Duals as a member of Team Indiana. From July 12-20, he will be in Fargo, North Dakota to compete in the USA Wrestling Freestyle Nationals.

It is not the typical summer for an honor roll student who just finished middle school.

“That is the thing that I think sets him apart,” his father said. “He is a very disciplined hard worker who understands his diet. This week, he had to be at 94 pounds. He gets up and runs two miles every day. He does stuff to keep his cardio up all on his own. He is the same way in wrestling practice. A lot of kids don’t like to work with him because, when you practice with him, you work your tail off.”

Anthony’s usual practice partner, Josue Bautista, can attest to that. An accomplished wrestler himself, Bautista will also join Frankfort’s high school team this year.

“It’s a good group,” Frankfort head coach Richard Sallee said of his incoming freshmen. “When Elijah comes, you have to have a good practice partner. His was Josue Bautista, who will most likely be competing for 113 weight class on varsity this year. Elijah, if he gains a little weight, will be our 106. They placed second (as a middle school team) in the Frankfort Invitational, which is the highest place they have had since I was in middle school. Placing second out of 16 teams is a pretty big deal.”

“Those two are really good friends,” Frank Anthony said of Elijah and Josue. “(Josue) is who Elijah wrestles every day in practice. Josue’s first year was seventh grade, and he has come so far. He won the Frankfort Invitational and won the Sagamore Athletic Conference. Him and Elijah, when you get them together in practice, it is all business. They work hard, and that is what separates them.”

Sallee agrees with the assessment of Anthony’s work habits in practice.

“I think the best thing that Elijah will bring is that his intensity level stays high the entire practice,” Sallee said. “That is something that will carry over to other athletes. He is a guy who does a lot of training. He works at Central Indian Academy wrestling club in Indianapolis and does Jeff Jordan intensive wrestling camps in Ohio.”

Frank Anthony says the trips to Jeff Jordan’s camps in Ohio have proven very useful.

“We have been to three years of Jeff Jordan camp in the summer, and I always take him back for a weekend in the fall that is a refresher of what they covered in the summer right before the start of the season,” he said. “It is a good camp. A lot of the stuff he uses today came from that camp. The competition level over there with 75 kids in the room who are all state placers, national placers and even national champions – it is only going to make you better.

“That kid is a bookworm when it comes to wrestling,” he added. “He watches videos online, picks up techniques, practices them and uses it. Even when he is going to wrestling tournaments, he is always on top of what is going on. He doesn’t miss anything.”

When he was in fourth grade, Antony began working with 2003 state champion and FMS coach Chase Thompson.

“Elijah lost one match his fifth-grade year,” Thompson said. “He is a phenomenal wrestler with an outstanding work ethic. You couldn’t ask for a better wrestling athlete than what he is. Basically, from his fifth grade year on through, he won most takedowns, most near falls and was piling up awards. He does amazing things.

“When he first showed up, he was very quiet,” Thompson recalled. “He didn’t shoe a lot of emotion. I never really knew how to take him, and I never could get much out of him emotion-wise. That has changed. When he first came in as a fourth- and fifth-grader, I referred to him as a sponge. Everything you showed him, he soaked it in, and he continues to do that. He goes to camps and things like that and ends up bringing back that knowledge.”

As a young middle-schooler, Anthony looked up to and practice with then-FHS wrestlers Skyler Collins and Alex Ragains.

“Those two, when they were juniors and seniors, also worked with Elijah, and they were like big brothers to him,” Frank Anthony said. “I can’t thank those guys enough for that.”

Once he comes back from wrestling in the freestyle nationals this July, Anthony will turn his attention to becoming a high school wrestler.

“We are pretty excited about it,” his father said. “I think he will have some success. He will wrestle at 106 pounds. Our goal – and I have already talked to coach Sallee about it – after he comes back from Fargo is to keep practicing and building strength. We will not worry about competing. He will get ready for high school. Our main goal is to get ready for high school.”

Thompson is confident that Anthony will be quite capable of making a seamless transition to the varsity ranks.

“I would say he will come in there and make a splash for sure,” Thompson said.

“I don’t know of anyone in the area who can touch him, and he has proven that over and over again. He is amazing. I would not be surprised to see him at the state tournament as a freshman at 106.”