The memories still linger in the back of Ricardo Plummer's mind.
They serve as reminders of hard times. They can put things in perspective for the 2010 York Suburban High School graduate. Or push him to excel when facing obstacles in his senior year wrestling at Messiah College.
There were the days growing up in Panama.
"I grew up in a neighborhood where you saw everything bad you can imagine growing up," Plummer said. "When I was 6- or 7-years-old I had seen stuff that 6-year-olds shouldn't be able to see. My mom did a great job keeping me away from that stuff."
Later in life, at 10-years-old, when Plummer's father brought Ricardo to the United States, they first lived in Brooklyn, with Plummer's mom and older sister.
"As hard as it was, they (my parents) did a good job staying away from that (bad) stuff," he said.
Having grown up in a Christian household, there still came a period when Plummer questioned his religion as a high school student at Suburban after his uncle and grandfather died back in Panama in a one-year span. His uncle had served as a role model to Plummer when he was growing up in Panama during the times his dad left to earn a living in the United States.
"I felt like my world dropped in," Plummer said of his uncle's death. "I was like 'Why this? Why that?' I was getting away from Christ. Then when I was coming back (to Christ) my grandfather died. I was like 'Oh, not again. Why now?' My mom was always there to bring me back."
Like many Messiah athletes, Plummer's faith led him to the Christian college in Grantham, where he is sporting a 22-3 individual record in his senior season at 174 pounds. He's helped the NCAA Division III Falcons (17-2) earn the No. 3 ranking in the country in the latest d3wrestle.com rankings. The 5-foot, 10-inch Plummer is also ranked No. 6 at 174 pounds in D-III in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association rankings. His first-place finish two weeks ago helped Messiah secure the program's first Middle Atlantic Conference Tournament title.
Learning to wrestle: Wrestling hasn't always come easy to Plummer, who is majoring in sports management with a minor in business administration.
Go back to his days as a freshman at Suburban, when Plummer first began wrestling after a sales pitch from then-Trojans' coach Chris Rumbaugh.
"The huge advantage he (Plummer) has is a great deal of natural athletic ability, combined with he listens very well and wants to learn," said Rumbaugh, who coached Suburban from 2000 to 2010. "He would absorb what you were talking about and use it really quick."
The only thing Rumbaugh had trouble drilling into Plummer, who also played football and ran track in high school, was teaching him to attack on the mat.
"His senior year I was trying as much as I could to build that confidence," Rumbaugh said. "With his athletic ability and explosive capacity, if he was more aggressive he would score more and find himself in better position more often."
Plummer qualified for the PIAA Class AA state tournament his senior season, reaching the 171-pound semifinal before finishing fifth with a 28-3 record.
In his second year as captain for the Falcons, Plummer says he learned to develop an aggressive side on the college mat. It helped him qualify for last year's D-III NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career. But Plummer went 0-2 there. Like he's done with previous hardships, though, the humble and articulate Plummer looks at the experience as a learning tool. In the final weeks of his wrestling career, he's aiming to return to the NCAA tourney and improve on last year's performance.
"Definitely the All-American status would be great. But as a team I just want our team to do well," he said. "I want to push my guys in the wrestling room to make us great and make us realize as a team we can be on the podium, too."
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.