November 17, 2000

On a Mission

Print More

Some athletes just stand apart from their peers. It could be their outstanding achievements in the sport that set them apart. It could be their experience that set them apart. It could be their lifestyle that set them apart. It could be their scholastic performance or their dedication that set them apart.

Or, in the case of Corey Anderson, it could be all of the above.

Anderson is the elder statesman of the Cornell wrestling team. He’ll turn 25 this winter and is experienced even beyond his age. He has 20 years of wrestling experience under his belt. He was a two-time state champion in high school, and spent the first two years of his college career at Brigham Young University. Anderson spent two years in Alabama on a Mormon mission building homes. And he has a wife and a child.

In addition, he is the tenth-ranked wrestler in the country at 197-lbs., and the defending Eastern champion.

“He wins because he is pound for pound the strongest guy I’ve ever had on this team,” coach Rob Koll said. “He’s got ‘old man strength,’ that’s what the guys say, and he is just not [a] guy you want to wrestle.”

“Corey’s a unique guy. He’s been around the block. He’s been wrestling for a lot longer than most of us, and he brings a different style of wrestling to the program, because he’s from the West, and out in Utah, it seems like they have a different style. He bring a lot of ‘elderly experience,’ I like to call it,” senior tri-captain Leo Urbinelli remarked. “He’s real good with the young guys, he’ll stay after practice and work with them. He’s a wise, old dude.”

Anderson grew up having his dad as his coach, and was a two-time Idaho state champion in high school. “I really like it here. It’s kind of like wrestling for my dad — a lot of team spirit, a lot of team camaraderie,” Anderson said. “At BYU, we didn’t have that, not because of the coach, but because everybody went away on missions for two years, so every year we were getting a new team in. We were never the same guys. But here, everybody’s together for five years.”

Like the rest of his BYU teammates, Anderson went on a mission for two years, building homes in Alabama. The work was intense, and there wasn’t much opportunity to wrestle, yet he still improved at the sport.

“As a person, I learned to endure. A lot of long days, and a lot of hard work. I learned to get to know myself. As a wrestler, it probably helped me the most, because I matured, I was two years older,” he noted.

“We were doing mission work from nine in the morning to nine at night, seven days a week, so the only time I had to work out was if I got up at five in the morning,” he added. “I remember one time I wanted to go lift weights, and we had to get up, and the nearest gym was five miles away, so we got up at 4:30 in the morning, we’d ride our bikes five miles on the freeway to get to the gym, get to the place, go ride back, then we’d do mission work.”

Koll expects Anderson’s experience to pay dividends this year, now that Anderson is a captain.

“When you’ve gone door-to-door and had dogs bite your feet and doors slammed in your face, it changes your work ethic,” Koll commented.

In addition to balancing wrestling, a pre-med schedule, and working, Anderson goes home to his wife of almost three years, Lori, and a one-and-a-half-year-old son, Byron. Even with though Anderson’s family life does distance him at times from his teammates, the squad still respected him enough to elect him a tri-captain this season, only his second at Cornell.

“The team’s been really cool about me being married,” he remarked.

Just the story of Anderson’s first year in Ithaca is an impressive tale on its own. When he arrived at Cornell, he had a slipped disc, and doctors told him he shouldn’t wrestle. He convinced them to let him rehab, and towards the end of the season he was ready to wrestle but he was still a backup.

“We had a returning Eastern champion from 1997. Well, the returning Eastern champion gets sick, can’t wrestle, so we threw Corey in there. He steps out, wins the Eastern championship,” Koll narrated.

The team is expecting more of that this year.

Archived article by Alex Fineman