LESLIE – Parker Schiller knew very little about high school wrestling four months ago.
He didn’t understand the point system. His technique … what technique?
Schiller, a junior at Leslie High School, decided to join the Blackhawks’ wrestling team for the first time this season. He wanted to get in shape for football and baseball, and, most importantly, he said he just wanted to drop 40 pounds.
“There was a lot that had to do with it, but I think weight loss had the most to do with it,” said Schiller, who came into the season weighing 308 pounds. “It was No. 1.
“(I joined) to help me with other sports. I was looking for success, but I was more looking for it to help me with other stuff.”
The 285-pound Schiller has made tremendous strides in a short amount of time. After an expected slow start to the season, the junior has started to find his way on the mat. He became Leslie’s only Division 3 state qualifier by placing fourth at last weekend’s individual regional tournament.
He’s not done yet. And even though he had no idea what he was doing for much of the season, the goal has always been “to shock the world.”
“It was the plan to try and go to states. That’s what coach and I said all season long,” said Schiller, who will go for a state title at next weekend’s state tournament at the Palace of Auburn Hills. “I wanted to, and that was the expectation. It’s surprising in the first year that I made it here.”
First-year Blackhawks coach Tucker Surbrook instilled the winning mindset into his rookie wrestler early. While Schiller was an inexperienced big body, Surbrook said he was impressed with the way he moved his hands and feet.
“In wrestling, you have to move your hands and your feet,” Surbrook said. “I knew that he had some ability, and I told him from the get-go that if he wrestled and gave me the time, ‘I think you’ll qualify for the state tournament.’
“He’s known that’s the expectation for him.”
Schiller’s 15-17 record resembles that of someone who had ups and downs throughout the year. A lot of his losses came toward the beginning of the season, but as the heavyweight started to come into his own, he started to see the improvements turn into victories.
Schiller said he started getting comfortable on the mat during winter break, around the time the sport started to become “fun” for him.
“I’ve learned to love the sport as the year went on. At the beginning, I wasn’t a fan of it, but I am now,” he said. “I wasn’t winning as much (early) and it wasn’t as fun. I started working harder, winning more, like right now, and it’s starting to become fun.”
Surbrook said Schiller has become a smarter wrestler in the last half of the season. He’s beginning to pick up the bits and pieces of information that seasoned wrestlers come equipped with.
Schiller can sense it all starting to come together at the right time. Now, just getting to states isn’t enough. He has bigger things in mind.
“The goal for me is to place at states,” Schiller said. “I think it would be something special to place right now.
“Talking to another kid at our school who qualified for regionals … he had been wrestling since he was in elementary school. Talking to him, he said, ‘Wow. You worked your butt off the whole year to get here. Do you realize what you’re doing here? I worked 11 years to get here.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.