By Michael Hicks
Saul Anderson admitted he was in the wrong for an alleged hazing incident involving wrestlers that led to his suspension from Berthoud High School on Dec. 15 for five days. But the 17-year-old senior said he isn’t exactly sure what it was he did.
“I admitted to doing it and they (school officials) said they had witnesses,” Anderson said. “I think I did do it. If I did it, I can’t remember how I did it. I can’t remember if I did it.”
Nevertheless, whether Anderson or fellow wrestler Brandyn Wahlert, were wrong or not for the alleged incidents involving freshman wrestlers that led to their suspensions, things have changed since the wrestling team took the mat in early December. Anderson is no longer with the squad, while Wahlert, who was suspended for 10 days, is expected back tonight when the Spartans wrestler Roosevelt, according to head coach Scott Pickert.
Anderson, who had wrestled for five years — the past three years at Berthoud, said he won’t return to the team. While Anderson said he will continue to attend Berthoud High for the remainder of the school year, his family has decided to move to Erie for personal reasons.
Still, Anderson said he still talks to most of the wrestlers and believes he would be welcomed back to the team if he were to return, but he won’t “because of the freshman class. I don’t want to go back and deal with all of them.”
Another reason why Saul won’t be returning to the team is his mother, Laura Anderson. She believes her son has been treated unfairly in this incident.
“That’s why I’m upset because I feel like they are targeting Saul,” said Laura Anderson, who claimed she hasn’t heard from any of the wrestling coaches since her son’s suspension. And, now, it’s too late. The damage is done, she added.
Her husband, Stan, said that it’s more than that, though.
“Me and her both feel like he (Saul) doesn’t understand,” Stan Anderson said. “He looks at it like they’re his friends. It’s a fun thing to do. There’s no harm. But there’s a bigger picture to it. He probably won’t understand until he has kids of his own.”
What the younger Anderson does understand, however, is how much he’ll miss the competition.
“I’ll miss it. It’s my senior year and I didn’t really want to quit,” Anderson said. “I’ll just move forward with it.”
But one thing he doesn’t understand is why it was just him and Wahlert who were the only ones to be punished. “I don’t know. It shouldn’t have been just us two that got targeted. It should’ve been a lot more people,” Anderson said.
One person who maybe shouldn’t have been punished was Anderson himself, according to assistant wrestling coach Mike Shearer.
“When I talked to Saul and learned the details of why he was suspended,” said Shearer, who said that the coaches weren’t in on the loop but that it was an administrative decision, “there was information that should’ve been shared that wasn’t. Maybe his behavior was not a hazing incident, but was just a wrestling incident.”
Even still, a police investigation has been ongoing. School Resource Officer Pablo Vazquez, who has been investigating the case for the Berthoud Police Department, said Monday he hopes to hear back by today whether or not the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office plans to file charges in the case.
Wahlert wasn’t available, but his father, Aaron Wahlert, confirmed his son returned to school and practice Jan. 12. The elder Wahlert said his son, who has been accepted by Western Wyoming Community College to continue his wrestling career but has yet to officially sign on, is upset over the situation and is hoping to put it behind him as soon as possible.
The same goes for many of his teammates.
“The first couple of days things were low, but now we’re back to normal,” senior heavyweight Jared Wikre said. “We’re trying to put it past us and move on the best we can.”
Anderson is doing the same thing. The incident, if nothing else, has left him wanting not to deal with the headaches around it any longer.
“I don’t want to get in trouble again,” Anderson said.