Wrestling: Lantz leaves SD lifestyle to join familiar faces at UW-Madison
Anders Lantz is ditching his preferred country life of Brookings, S.D. for an urban lifestyle in Madison, but he won't stray far from a wrestling mat.
Lantz, a 2017 Ellsworth graduate, announced he would be leaving South Dakota State University to further his collegiate wrestling career as a University of Wisconsin-Madison walk-on via Facebook on Thursday, June 7, less than three months after Chris Bono took over as the Badgers' new head wrestling coach.
Prior to replacing National Wrestling Hall of Famer Barry Davis, Bono led SDSU for six seasons, including the 2017-18 season in which Lantz redshirted and the Jackrabbits finished 12th in the NCAA Tournament.
For Lantz, deciding to follow Bono, his assistant coach Jon Raeder and the rest of the new UW coaching staff, which he referred to as "the best coaching staff in the country" on Facebook, required little deliberation.
"The (SDSU) coaches got a job opportunity, and they asked, 'If we get the job, would you go?'" Lantz explained. "And I said of course. I trust them with my training; I think they're the best coaches for my fit. It was a real easy choice."
After his senior year of high school with the Panthers, Lantz set his sights on SDSU where he would be able to hunt and fish while continuing his wrestling career.
"I didn't necessarily get recruited, I basically was like, 'I want to wrestle at South Dakota,'" Lantz said. "But they really gave me an opportunity to wrestle and said that if I wanted to work hard I could be on the team. I've grown really close to the coaches."
According to SDSU's athletic website, though Lantz redshirted in his first collegiate season, he was able to compete in open tournaments and finished the year with a 10-11 record as a 165-pounder. Lantz wasn't able to recall his redshirt record off the top of his head, but he referred to his first year out of a purple singlet as a "good learning experience."
"It was a learning experience, for sure," Lantz said. "I got the feel for the Division I level of competition. There are kids you can beat up on, and there are kids that make me realize I need to work a lot harder this summer."
Now that Lantz has completed the intricacies of transferring, he's been able to take advantage of Madison's Badger Regional Training Center and is now able to join his new teammates in strength and conditioning workouts.
Lantz leaned on his older brother Jens, an incoming senior on the Badgers' squad, when he first moved to Madison, but was soon welcomed with "open arms" by the entire team.
"They thought it was cool that we came here with the coaches," Lantz said. "A lot of the guys are Wisconsin guys, too. It's just like coming into a new team, but you feel like brothers right away. Everyone is there for everyone."
"I couldn't be more excited to train and compete alongside my brother in my final collegiate season," Jens Lantz said. "It has been great watching him grow as a wrestler and as a person from afar, and now I get to experience it firsthand. I'll continue to be the person to look out for him and help him achieve his goals and I know he will be doing the same for me."
Lantz's new band of brothers and trusted coaches will help him transition from his quiet, small-town life in Brookings to the craziness of Madtown.
"Senior year I said I thought South Dakota would be a cool place to go. It's my kind of style. I love the outdoors, and the population of the school and town is comparable to River Falls," Lantz said.
But he's willing to put his hunting and fishing hobbies on hold in order to join the familiar faces who've helped him recognize his wrestling potential.
"(The coaches) make me want to be the best version of me," Lantz said, "which is who they want me to be, too."