When Casey Glunt was in kindergarten and first grade, he and one of the other kids, Hunter Faith, would sometimes get into fights on the playground. Faith always managed to win.
"He'd always beat me up, even though we became best friends," Glunt said. "So one time I asked him how come he was so good at fighting and he said it's because he was wrestling. I was into WWE at the time anyway, and then Hunter showed me all these trophies he'd won."
So Glunt signed up to wrestle when he was 6 years old, and within a couple of weeks he was moved from beginner to advanced.
It was a sign of things to come.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Glunt wrapped up the best career of anyone who has donned a James Buchanan wrestling singlet (or even an old-style three-piece uniform).
Glunt was 34-2 this year, putting his career record at 120-28. It's the most wins in school history.
He was also second in the District 3 Class AAA Tournament and placed third at 182 pounds in the PIAA Championships. A year ago he became JB's first-ever state medalist; now his third-place finish sets a new standard for future Rockets.
"Everyone will look up to him and strive to beat his records now," JB coach Matt Gordon said. "It'll give the kids in our program confidence because he came up through here. And it'll give me a goal now, too, trying to get somebody higher than third."
In the time since states ended, Glunt has come to terms with the fact that he didn't quite reach his goal of being a state champion.
"Starting in middle school, I'd watch the state finals on TV and knew I wanted to do that," he said. "Taking third is not what I wanted, but a lot of people have told me how proud they are of what I did and I've had little kids come up to me and congratulate me. So that makes me feel a lot better."
A state title was certainly not out of the question. Glunt came in ranked No. 2 in the state behind eventual champion Kellen Stout of Mt. Lebanon. But in the semifinals, Glunt was edged 5-4 in a tiebreaker by John Jakobsen of Stroudsburg. The key move was a two-point nearfall Jakobsen secured with a cradle.
"I lost three times to (Northern's Kyle) Koser last year because he got me in a cradle," Glunt said. "I guess with those long kids I have trouble stopping a cradle. I'd seen film of Jakobsen and didn't see a cradle that much, but he teched his guy in the quarterfinals using it."
Jakobsen ended up falling to Stout in the final, 1-0.
One of the hardest things to do is lose in a state semifinal, then come back and wrestle in the consolations. You're coming off an emotional loss and the kid you face is coming off a win.
"First of all, I was drained physically, coming off an overtime," Glunt said, "and I knew I wasn't going to win a state title. But that's when coach Gordon stepped in and told me gut this one out as a matter of pride and come back and get third."
A year ago, Glunt lost in the semifinals, then lost two consolation bouts to place sixth. But this year he won those same two matches and grabbed a bronze medal.
One difference was the mental part of it. The other was that he worked hard at getting better on his feet.
"If this year's me would wrestle the me of last year, he'd kill him," was the way Glunt described how much better he was this time around.
"I wasn't as aggressive on my feet for most of last year as I was this year," he said. "You have to attack the head because the body goes where the head goes. And you have to attack the hands and do more shooting."
He'll have to continue to find more improvements in the coming years. Glunt has committed to attend Bloomsburg, which is a Division I school in wrestling. He decided early on the Huskies, although he's received attention from schools like Pitt, Edinboro, Lock Haven and Hofstra.
"I think I want to get red-shirted the first year," said Glunt, who expects to be at 184 for college. "I have to improve at everything to be at a Division I level. I want to scramble better, I have to be better at getting off bottom because of riding time and I need to ride better on top. And I need to be aggressive on my feet.
"I always wanted to go Division I because it's the top level."
And now he's much better equipped to win those fights.
Parent: Norma Fales
Record this year: 34-2
Career record: 120-28
Interests: Played football for the Rockets; likes to hunt and fish.
Favorite team: Denver Broncos
Favorite athlete: David Taylor, former Penn State wrestler
3 people he'd invite to dinner: His Pap, David Taylor and Jordan Burroughs