Printed on: March 24, 2013
Wrestler of the Year
By Paul Lambert
Madison High School
It's easy to spot Richard Anau at a wrestling tournament.
He's the one with the silly grin on his face, shaking his thick neck around like a giant, overcooked Manicotti noodle.
He's loose. He's limber. He's smiling.
Or you could just wait around to the end of the 195-pound championship match. Anau will be the one with his arm in the air.
"That's just my way of warming up," Anau said of his uncommon approach to pre-match tension. "I just get loose, get happy and I'm just not that tense of a wrestler. I guess I never really get too mad or too sad."
Anau also never got too overmatched, never losing to an Idaho wrestler over his two seasons with the Madison Bobcats, winning 100 matches, a 4A state title, a 5A state title and the title of Post Register All-Area Wrestler of the Year.
And he did it laughing, happy and having fun like a high school athlete should.
Anau rejects the image of the wrestler warming up like a boxer, hidden deep inside the cowl of an oversized hoodie listening to speed metal.
Prior to his 5A state championship bout against Centennial's Logan Blackwood, Anau reached across the circle and with a genuine smile, wished his opponent good luck.
He then went out and scored a gentlemanly 11-3 major decision, dominating with a grin in his final high school match.
"He's a gentle giant," Madison coach Keven Glider said. "We had to work with him to get him to even throw a cross face, because he's very even tempered, keeps control and is a good sportsman."
Despite that consistent display of sportsmanship, Anau often found it troublesome that many wrestlers didn't want to compete with him.
A quick survey of the regional competition at 220 pounds left Anau flat, and he realized the best grapplers close to his size were at 195.
When a wrestler drops a weight class, it is generally to take advantage of opponents of lesser weight, and therefore, lesser strength.
When Anau drops class, however, it's because he wants the most difficult test available.
"There were too many guys who were dodging us, and I had him cut down to 195 so we use him there or move him up to 220 if there was a tougher guy," Glider said. "We were trying to wrestle to the toughest guy, and sometimes when you get as good as Richard is, people don't want to wrestle and dodge ya."
Plus, with Madison's move from 4A to 5A, the state tournament bracket would include a whole new cast of 195-pound characters.
Still, Anau continued to find it difficult to get other 195 pounders to step into the circle with him.
On senior night, for example, Madison hosted a double dual with Pocatello and Highland. Neither team put up a 195 pounder, bumming out the home crowd and the state's best big man.
"Sometimes kids would even defeat themselves and not wrestle me all the way, and that was (frustrating) because it was my senior year, and I wanted the toughest competition I could get."
Utah Valley assistant coach Justin Ruiz was at Holt Arena to watch Anau's second state title, and Anau is looking forward to moving on to the collegiate game at UVU or elsewhere.
On the college mat, Anau said, dodging is unacceptable and every match features a worthy challenge.
"He has a bight future," Glider said. "He will have to buckle down and get after his schooling, but he will be able to take wrestling a long way at the next level."
And he'll be easy to spot when he gets there. He'll be the guy with his arm in the air and a silly little grin on his face.