In a couple of weeks, when Rock Bridge freshman wrestler Pete Schermer wakes up and looks in the mirror, the hair that now flops around his head whenever he moves and curls and twists in a myriad of directions, will be gone.
His hair makes him stand out among all the other guys, the ones who carry the shorter, more orderly haircuts.
But surely in a sport such as wrestling, it can’t be good, especially in the steaming hot sauna that is the wrestling room at Rock Bridge High School.
So, is there a secret behind the long hair?
“Not really,” he says, laughing. “I just think it looks better long.”
But Schermer will forego looks for efficiency in a week or so, when the hair is cut shorter. Although he is cutting it for convenience, his trim is representative of the more disciplined approach that new Rock Bridge coach Brook Harlan has implemented.
It’s an approach that Schermer and others on the team are eating up.
“The practices are a little more intense, more strict,” he said. “But that’s good ‘cause it keeps us disciplined and makes us better wrestlers.”
That answer comes as a surprise from any high schooler, let alone a freshman. But though Schermer might be a freshman in high school wrestling, he is far from a newcomer to the sport.
This year will be his fourth on a mat, with the previous three coming with the Rock Bridge kids’ club. His experience is a distinct advantage for someone in his position. He hopes to parlay that into success, if not this year, then in the future.
“Pete has a lot of knowledge about the sport,” Harlan said. “He’s working hard in practice, and I think he’ll do well.”
When asked about his expectations this year, Schermer makes no bones. He doesn’t just want to compete. He wants to win. Now.
“I want to place high in state and I obviously hope to improve as a wrestler,” he said.
Schermer is the only freshman ready to compete on the 2005-2006 Rock Bridge wrestling team.
It’s not often that a freshman can be put in a leadership position, but Harlan expects Schermer to show the other freshman how to compete at the varsity level.
“I think he’s real comfortable with the sport, and I think that helps put the other freshmen at ease as well,” he said.
To most people, Schermer looks like your average freshman in high school.
Barely 5 feet, 7 inches tall, wiry, 120 pounds soaking wet. He squirms when he talks, gives off a kind of anxious energy.
Schermer isn’t that comfortable in the spotlight.
But, come Nov. 21, he’ll be stepping onto a wrestling mat to compete for a varsity position at the 119-pound weight class.
And no matter what happens that night, he’ll already be ahead of most of his peers. The quiet, unassuming Schermer merely smiles, however, when asked if he’s nervous about his advanced status.
“Nah, I just want to start wrestling.”