Natural talent for a sport is not something that comes along very often. Whether it's on the gridiron, the hardwood or the ice, sometimes a young man, or sometimes a young lady, just has the natural ability to showcase their talent.
It cannot be said very often about racing, much less those handling trucks on the many monster truck tours happening during the first quarter. But for one young man, the shoe simply fits.
Ryan Anderson was always waiting for the right time, and the required age, to compete in Monster Jam. His first season driving the Monster Mutt, he impressed, but it was when he finally got to step into his own creation, his own idea, Son-Uva Digger, that things went through the roof.
Last year, he won seven straight freestyle titles. Unfortunately, a scary injury at the World Finals sidelined the youngest Anderson in the Digger Family for months. But once he returned, he went on a tear and showed he hadn't lost a step.
This past weekend, Anderson had to represent his family to the fullest. Anderson brought his 1950 Willys Panel Van to Orlando's Citrus Bowl, a stadium that for many years has been the most popular stop for his father, Dennis, and Grave Digger. But, his dad was competing in Indianapolis this weekend for the first time in many years, and it was Chad Tingler competing with Digger.
But Ryan not only was up to the task, he was the king on this night. In racing, Anderson first took out Bari Musawwir in Spiderman, then managed to outperform the man celebrating 10 years of destruction, Tom Meents, in Max-D. He then took out Gunslinger to wind up in the finals against Marc McDonald in El Toro Loco. But, the crazy bull was humbled as Anderson took his first trophy on the night.
It wasn't until freestyle that Anderson went off. Even after a strong run by Tingler in Grave Digger, Anderson roared out and put on a clinic in front of a sold-out, standing room only crowd of more than 60,000 screaming fans. Crossing over jumps, massive hang time, and also a spectacular nose-standing save all culminating in a dirt-slinging donut that saw Anderson end up on his side, and fans in the front row throwing out their open-cup drinks thanks to the dust and clay ending up in their sodas and beer.
The only truck having a chance to top Anderson was Meents, and after his second hit, Meents went on a roll, then brought it back, only to end up on his roof...then back on the wheels. Meents locked up the left-rear planetary, then after a few more hits, his left-front locked up. Only thing Meents at that point could do was spin into a huge cyclone, ending up on the roof and destroying the robot on the glowing body.
It was not enough, as Meents did not get into bonus time, and Anderson for the second straight week would end up in victory circle with not one, not two, but three monster trophies, ending with his second consecutive Double Down.
The Anderson family didn't walk away with wins just by Ryan, as his brother and father also had great nights. Dad's return to Indianapolis saw him take his Grave Digger to a freestyle victory, wowing the crowd that waited years to see the Icon return.
His brother, Adam, was in Phoenix competing in Chase Stadium, home of the Diamondbacks. After tearing off the 1951 Ford van body that started the entire Grave Digger dynasty in monster trucks, he would bring home yet another victory for the family.
The Anderson family will rock three events next weekend. Ryan will not be at a big stadium, as he will entertain the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Dennis will return to Florida for his second show in Tampa, hoping to make up for missing Orlando this year. Adam is heading to the town that started the entire monster truck industry, St. Louis, the home of Bigfoot.
If this weekend is any indication, there may need to be more room cleared out in the trophy case.