Home Local News Tinley Park’s Maren Anderson to vie for beach wrestling title

Tinley Park’s Maren Anderson to vie for beach wrestling title

Tinley Park’s Maren Anderson to vie for beach wrestling title

Maren Anderson has long been representing Team USA on her car.

Now, the Tinley Park High School alum has a chance to compete for her country.

Anderson, who graduated from Tinley last year and is now a wrestler and lacrosse player at North Central College in Naperville, recently qualified to be a part of Team USA at the 2022 Beach Wrestling World Championships.

“It’s something I didn’t expect to be able to do,” Anderson said. “I joke around with my mom because I have a USA Wrestling sticker on my car and she’d say, ‘If you keep it on there long enough, it will happen.’ Now, it’s happening.

“It’s really surprising and very exciting to get this opportunity.”

In addition to qualifying for the World Championships in September in Romania, Anderson also is eligible for the Beach Wrestling World Series, which features several tournaments in Europe leading up to Worlds.

Anderson recently competed in an event in Greece and is raising money in hopes of continuing to participate in the overseas competitions.

“It’s absolutely incredible seeing her get to do this,” Tinley Park High School wrestling coach John Pfeffer said. “I told her we’d do whatever we could financially to help her but I wanted a picture of her in her Tinley Park wrestling shirt when she’s out there wrestling at the World Championships. She said, ‘Deal.'”

Anderson has plenty of experience being a trailblazer.

She started wrestling as a freshman in high school and for a time was the only girl on a team full of boys. She was also the lone female on the School District 228 lacrosse team.

Now, she’s starting a new journey in beach wrestling – a variation on the sport that is still mostly unknown in the United States.

“It’s big in Europe but it’s just now starting to gain interest in America and we’re getting more people into it here,” Anderson said. “I think for other girls, it’s definitely something everyone can benefit from. It’s a lot of fun.

“The scariest part is getting out there but once you’re out there, you’re going to have the best time of your life.”

Anderson had never tried beach wrestling before she headed to North Carolina to compete in the USA Beach Wrestling National Championships in May.

She had to be talked into going by Mitchell Cook, who coaches Anderson at Natural Athlete Wrestling Club in Orland Park.

Cook, a Sandburg graduate, also competed and qualified for the Worlds team.

“I thought it was a regular tournament and when I heard it was beach wrestling, I almost didn’t go,” Anderson said. “But (Cook) really wanted me to do it and it was an excuse to go to a North Carolina beach in the summer.”

Anderson ended up finishing second in her weight division to earn a spot at Worlds.

She said wrestling on sand presented all sorts of new challenges. There are also some different rules from the freestyle wrestling Anderson is used to.

“It’s completely different,” Anderson said. “It’s really hard to push off the sand because it’s constantly moving. I think the biggest difference is the scoring. It’s first to three points. Getting those points is a lot different. Pretty much everything is one point unless you throw someone, which is three points and automatically wins you the match.

“I was really confused the whole time. I kind of read the rules on the way there. I pretty much wrestled how I normally would in freestyle and then made adjustments as I went along and learned the rules.”

Pfeffer was not surprised to see Anderson take a risk and try something different. He’s been watching her do that for years.

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“Maren came in as a new wrestler in high school and she never quit,” Pfeffer said. “She just kept going. She was willing to ask for help. She was constantly pushing herself to get better. I’d tell her to watch a video or follow someone on Twitter for advice and she’d always do it.

“She became a student of the sport.”

Anderson has an online fundraising page to help her travel to the World Championships at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-maren-wrestle-for-team-usa.

She hopes to be in Romania wrestling with a Team USA uniform on.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me, something I never expected, and I’m so excited,” Anderson said. “The hardest part was just getting out there and committing to do the tournament.

“Now, I’ve found something new that is a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to continuing with it.”

Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.



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