Jupiter High School hosted a District 11-3A dual wrestling tournament on Wednesday night, turning the cafeteria into a massive mat-covered arena.
And while the high-school wrestling action took center stage, Team USA wrestler Kendrick Sanders watched from beyond the mat.
Dressed in a jean jacket and a cap, he might have gone unnoticed within the bustling arena as six teams vied for the dual tournament trophy.
But his advice certainly did not as the star wrestler advised Gardens wrestlers alongside the coaching staff.
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A graduate of South Dade Senior High School, Sanders spent a large chunk of his childhood in Palm Beach County, forming bonds with members of Jupiter, Gardens, and Jupiter Christian’s wrestling communities.
“I grew up in Miami, but I was always here growing up all the way through high-school. I was pretty much best friends with Tucker Raich,” he said, referring to the former Jupiter Christian wrestler.
Although he continues to add accolades to an already-storied wrestling career, Sanders still enjoys finding time to travel to South Florida.
That includes giving tips and tricks when he can to the next generation of wrestlers.
“Whenever I get in this area, I always try to give back, whether as a coach or working out with these guys just to give back to the community,” Sanders said. “When I was around this age, these guys were helping me out and doing what they could to push me. Whenever I come out, I try to do the same.”
Wednesday, he was a guest expert. Thursday, he left for Olympic training after taking a year off due to a broken rib.
“This past year was a tough year for me. I went through a lot of adversity. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to compete for the Olympic trials due to the fact I broke my ribs the day I was supposed to leave. So, it was a hard pill to swallow.”
Sanders has won two USA Open medals, dating back to his first in 2014. His second U.S. Open title came as recently as 2019, a testament to his staying power in the sport.
Recovered and reinvigorated, he’s ready to chase a third.