Some West York grapplers might find it frustrating. Not Kyle Narber, though.
When he's winded and exhausted near the end of practice, Narber has a simple solution. He just looks over at teammate Jacob Gemmill, the 220-pound captain who opted to put off knee surgery so he wouldn't miss his senior year of wrestling.
"I just kind of to just try to tell myself to keep going," Narber said. "Seeing Jake kind of motivates you, too. Seeing as he only has one good leg, we can push it a little harder."
Gemmill, a returning District 3-AAA qualifier, isn't one to make excuses. He's proven that the last two months.
It was on the West York football field where Gemmill, the starting right tackle, injured his knee when he got clipped from behind in the District 3-AAA semifinal game against Susquehanna Township on Nov.
He would do so the next two weeks, playing through the 21-10 loss to Bishop McDevitt in the District 3-AAA title game at Hersheypark Stadium and participating in the ensuing week of wrestling practice.
"He kept it all hush-hush through the first week of practice," wrestling coach Brian Gross said. "There was no limp in his walk or anything like that for us to suspect anything."
West York football coach Ron Miller only found out about the injury after Gemmill missed most of December to rest the knee.
"If he would've come to me, I'm not gonna let a kid play hurt," Miller said. "In fact when he wasn't wrestling I said 'What's wrong?' He told me he had a torn meniscus and he's had it since the Susquehanna Township game. I was shocked. He's a tough kid."
It was during a dual tournament at Milton Hershey High School on Dec. 8 when the pain finally became unbearable. An magnetic resonance image (MRI) the next day at Orthopaedic and Spine Specialists' Hospital revealed a torn meniscus. After three weeks of rest, Gemmill was cleared to return to the mat Dec. 27 by OSS' Dr. William Ulmer.
"My doctor said he'd like for me to get surgery now but since I'm a senior he'll let me wrestle," Gemmill said.
On the mat: Still wrestling in pain, Gemmill appears to be on track to meet this year's goal of earning a district medal after reaching the district quarterfinals last season.
He went 5-0 over the weekend at the Elizabethtown tournament, beating Eastern York's Camden Stoops (17-2) in the championship bout. Gemmill also owns a win over Spring Grove's Alex Guinn (20-3), one of the top 220-pounders in the York-Adams League.
And he's now 15-2 on the season. The two losses? The first came a week after his return in a 7-3 decision to South Western's Aram Moffitt, a returning district qualifier and arguably the best 220-pounder in the league. The second came in overtime at a tournament Jan. 12 against Lampeter-Strasburg's Jeff Pickel, who took bronze at districts to qualify for states at 195 pounds a year ago.
"We were tied with 40 seconds left and couldn't get out of the bottom," Gross said of Gemmill's loss to Pickel. "I think we gotta get Jacob back in shape. And once he gets back in shape he'll be fine."
Well, not entirely.
He'll still have a bum knee, which might be a frustrating for grapplers who come out on the losing end to Gemmill since any excuse would pale in comparison. His teammates can relate to that feeling.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.