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VT’s Andonian Plans For Big Impact at Junior World Championships

Bryce Andonian has made a name for himself in the wrestling community with his unpredictable style, insane hips and lack of fear for upper body wrestling. He is a two-time Ohio state champion for the legendary St. Edward High School, 2018 Fargo champion in freestyle, a two-time NCAA qualifier for Virginia Tech, and will be representing Team USA at the 2021 Junior World Championships being held in Ufa, Russia this August at 70kg.

Training With Frayer & Green

When preparing for Junior Nationals, which was held in Coralville, Iowa in May of this year, Andonian stated that Virginia Tech head assistant coach, Jared Frayer, put him and his teammates through an intense training cycle.

β€œWe did at least two workouts a day. Every day I was doing high pace three-man groups with Clayton Ulrey and James Green and working on freestyle positions with Frayer.” Frayer, a 2008 Olympian, made sure that his athletes were in prime condition when it came time to go to battle, having them go through intense two guys in, one guy out live go rotations – a workout commonly referred to as β€œshark bait.”

Andonian credits much of his success at Junior Nationals to SERTC teammate, James Green, a five-time Senior World Team member and three-time medalist. β€œIn the last year he has been with us, he has helped me insanely.” he stated when asked about Green. β€œWhen he started out, he was whooping me. I’d never felt a hand fight like that.” He claims that being able to learn how to get to his own ties and scrap with a veteran like Green has played a huge role in his growth as a wrestler. When it comes to wrestling international opponents, Andonian feels Green has prepared him for it, stating, β€œHis dominating and foreign feel made me get used to those uncomfortable times.”

Overcoming Blood Round Trauma

At the 2021 NCAA Championships, Andonian fell in the round of twelve, otherwise known as, β€˜The Blood Round’. When asked if falling short of all-American status was a driving factor in his training, he replied, β€œOne thousand percent. Going into [NCAA] nationals, that was my first nationals, I thought I had talent, I had skill, and I thought that was going to take me a long way.”

Andonian faced Kyle Parco of Fresno State, losing 7-4. β€œI truly give that kid all the credit in the world, but I think that match made me realize that God gives to those who gave it. I believe I didn’t give it my all and skill wasn’t going to take me there.” Andonian claims this loss was a turning point in his mindset and changed the way he approached everything he did on and off the mat.

What Changed After NCAAs?

When it comes to self-confidence, Bryce Andonian epitomizes it. β€œThis time, my preparation was really good. I didn’t really have any single doubts for a month straight after [NCAA] nationals.” Andonian is a big believer in positive affirmations and claimed he was inspired by UFC women’s strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas, and her fight a week prior to Junior Nationals.

β€œI saw a video online of her before the fight, and she was walking, saying, β€˜I’m the best. I’m the best.’, and that’s all she was saying. So, this tournament, before every match I would simply say, β€˜I’m the best. I’m the best. I’m the best.’.” He claims the simplicity and quick affirmations kept him from overthinking.

Huge Strides at Junior Nationals

In the Junior National finals, Andonian squared off with ACC foe, Ed Scott of NC State. The two had wrestled twice during the NCAA season with Andonian winning in both meetings.

When asked how he felt having to face a familiar opponent, he said, β€œI didn’t think anything other than, β€˜This is my tournament, I’m going to win this tournament.’. I didn’t look at it like, β€˜I’ve beaten this guy before’, because I’ve been in the position where I’ve thought like that and it came back to bite me.” He claimed that he looked at Scott the same way he looked at everybody at that tournament, β€œSomebody in the way of my goal and I had to take him out.”

Representing Team USA

In preparation for the Junior World Championships, Andonian plans to approach his training in the same way he did for Junior Nationals. β€œMe being able to give it my all this time and see that it turned out well is just even more of a motivating factor for me heading into Russia.”

After failing to make a world team three times, Andonian is elated at the opportunity to dawn a USA singlet and wrestle on an international stage. When asked what it means to him to represent America, he stated, β€œI feel honored. Being able to have the opportunity to represent this country and to also know that if I win, which I plan on winning, I can say that I am the strongest 70kg Junior in the world.” Bryce Andonian is looking to put the world on notice come August and set in stone that he is a force to be reckoned with.