This Maryland high school player profiles series is presented by the U.S. Army.
Emerson Lehnert, a junior on the Hereford High School wrestling team, was nominated for the Maryland high school player profiles series by Bulls assistant coach Brett Baier.
“In spite of the COVID restrictions, distractions and excuses, Emerson is making the most of his opportunities both in the classroom and on the mat,” Baier said. “This hard-working co-captain attends several of the FITS Academy wrestling workouts a week. Always looking to improve, Emerson, who was a part-time varsity wrestler last year and also a Baltimore County JV champ, took second in his weight class at the [Maryland Junior Wrestling League] event in December.”
Lehnert has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout his time at Hereford, a source of pride for the wrestler and his coach. He attends those FITS workouts both in White Hall, Md., and in Glen Rock, Pa. Currently wrestling in the 152-pound weight class, he was set to jump to full-time varsity this year until the season was canceled.
He answered a few questions about being nominated.
PressBox: What does it mean for you to be recognized by your coach like this?
Emerson Lehnert: It means a lot. It shows that I’ve put in a lot of work, and someone’s recognizing that. It means a lot, especially when you know it’s someone that you work with a lot like a coach — almost every day for a season. It means a lot to be recognized like that. Coach Baier, the fact that there’s the whole team to be chosen, but to stand out, it means a lot.
PB: How did you get into wrestling? What do you like about the sport, and how’d you become as good as you’ve become?
EL: I started freshman year, which is kind of late for a lot of wrestlers. Most of them started in Junior League. And I just caught on. I was in the cafeteria and one of the JV coaches came by and said, “Do you want to wrestle?” and just gave me a flier. And I took it and I said, “You know what, I want to do this, this seems like fun.” I had done martial arts before, like jujutsu and other martial arts. I thought that it would be somewhat similar. And I came to the first practice, and I found that it was a little bit different, but there [are] definitely some similarities with martial arts. And I realized that I was doing pretty [well] against these kids that had wrestled before. And I continue to just stick with it. That was my first season, in ninth grade. And then that summer, I did a lot of offseason training with another coach [who was] an All-American D-I college wrestler. And so I was basically being taught by some of the best, and that really helped my technique. In the 10th grade, I ended up winning [a] JV tournament.
PB: What’s been your favorite moment from wrestling so far?
EL: I would say my favorite moment would be winning a tournament — just you and the opponent on the mat in front of hundreds of people. And you get that pin, and it feels great. I mean, you get the win, but you also get the pin. And it’s like a whole experience. You get this excited feeling, but you’re kind of nervous at the same time. But once you get the win, it’s like this relief. I would say that’s probably the most important moment that I’ve had in wrestling, and most memorable.
PB: Coach Baier mentioned your success in the classroom as well as on the mat. How important is academic success to you?
EL: I would say academics is just as important as if you were involved in sports, because [academics] would take priority over a sport [for some]. But I feel like they’re both as important, because wrestling is a mental sport. You’ve got to keep your mind sharp and your body, too. I feel like in the classroom, that’s your practice [for] the wrestling room. That’s how I look at it, and I’d say that’s why it’s so important to do well in the classroom.
PB: Sports-wise, how have you handled the pandemic? How hard has it been and what are you doing to stay busy?
EL: Well, when it first hit, I had just tried out for track and I was doing that for a little bit. So I was keeping busy through that. But then when that ended and schools shut down, luckily I had bought a weight set, so I was just working out every day with my dad. We broke down a workout routine and just stuck with it for like three months. In September, around that time, clubs began to start opening up for wrestling. They were allowing that to happen, and I was able to wrestle through club after school. But I was able to go to these practices and keep up with my skills and get back into wrestling, and they’ve been holding tournaments throughout the country most days through clubs, and that allows you to get practice in.
PB: What are your goals for the rest of your high school career, and do you have any plans for after high school?
EL: I would say my plan is basically to go to college, definitely. For wrestling, I was thinking, depending on how well I would do this year or next year — sadly, we don’t have a season this year through school — but I could see myself wrestling in college if I really put the work in. Especially this year, because this is a great opportunity to improve and get to that level of possibly Division I, Division II, Division III. Any work that you put in now will lead to something like that. So I could see myself in college wrestling, yes.
To nominate an athlete or team for a future U.S. Army Player/Team Profile, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Impact.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brett Baier