Sitting down at dinner about a month ago, Monty and Denise Strand of Herriman received the call of a lifetime.
A Utah wrestling coach from Payson called saying their son, Chandler, had come up in discussion to represent the United States in the Pan-Am Games at 110 pounds, and they would need an answer that night.
“Oh my gosh, this is huge,” thought Monty Strand as he hung up the phone.
It took about a minute after the elder Strand’s announcement for the family to get back on the phone and tell USA Wrestling that Chandler was in.
His experience in Venezuela was golden.
“It was really interesting to see the different wrestling techniques from the guys from Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Cuba,” said Chandler Strand. “I lost one match in Greco-Roman competition, but won the gold medal based on criteria.”
For a wrestler who once quit the sport because he couldn’t handle the emotional stress of being injured so often, the Pan-Am Games gold medal is simply an exclamation point to a remarkable comeback.
Denise and Monty Strand noticed their son had an unusual gait running back to the huddle when he played football in junior high. The parents sat him down when he got home and found his legs weren’t the same length.
Doctors at Shriner’s Hospital found a discrepancy in the length of his femurs. They broke his femur and then attached an exterior fixater — a metal bar and pins. The Strand family cranked on the knob of the device multiple times per day. After three months, the lengths of the femurs stabilized, and Chandler has had no further problems. All told, he had three surgeries to correct the problem.
One year later, he tore his ACL in his last match of the junior duals in Idaho, and he decided to quit the sport. It didn’t take long for the fire to come back once the ACL healed.
“It really bugged me because I was beating these really good kids, and then I got hurt again,” Strand said. “Being home and sitting there all day made me realize wrestling is my life, and I couldn’t live without it.”
Strand fought his way back from his injury setbacks to capture Herriman’s first-ever individual state title at the 2012 Utah state meet, and he says the Pan-Am gold only reaffirms his desire to wrestle at the highest level.
“I definitely want to compete in college,” he said. “Right now I’m just thankful that I’m healthy and finally able to just focus on wrestling.”
Won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Pan-Am Games.
Won Herriman’s first-ever individual wrestling state title.
Overcame femur surgeries and an ACL tear in his wrestling career.