Michael Kemerer completes his junior year at Franklin Regional High School this week and is now looking toward his future.
"July 1 is the date everybody is waiting for," said Kemerer, a three-time PIAA Class AAA runner-up. "That's the day college coaches can begin talking to us. It's restricted as to what they can do prior to that date."
Kemerer is one of four Franklin Regional grapplers who will likely be wrestling at an NCAA Division I college in the fall of 2015. All four face the task of choosing the college that best suits their athletic and academic needs. The other three are Josh Shields, Josh Maruca and Devin Brown.
"I've already begun the process of checking out some of the schools that have shown an interest in me," Kemerer said. "I've made unofficial visits to Lehigh, Virginia Tech, Stanford and Ohio State. I'm also hoping to check out a couple more schools before July 1. I don't want to wait until the last minute."
Kemerer wants to find a college wrestling program that's the perfect fit for him, but also realizes that the academic side of college is more important.
"Because there's no competitive pro wrestling, unless you go into [mixed martial arts], I have to consider my future," Kemerer said. "I'm looking into a business-related major. I really like math, so I would like to major in some form of business. With that in mind, I'm looking for a school that has a good business program."
Kemerer's teammates are in the same boat.
"None of us have decided yet," Kemerer said. "We're all waiting for July 1 to see which schools are most interested in us."
Kemerer and his teammates may be waiting, but they haven't stopped wrestling. Kemerer, Shields, Maruca and recent graduate Tyler Smith all spent last weekend at Chambersburg High School at the Pennsylvania Amateur Wrestling Federation state championships.
"I won the 145-pound weight class in freestyle and Josh Shields won at 152," Kemerer said. "Tyler Smith was also in my weight class, and Josh Maruca was in the same weight class with Josh Shields. Competing in the same weight class isn't a big deal when you're wrestling during the summer."
Kemerer defeated Smith in the 145-pound final. Maruca placed third in his weight class.
"All four of us have qualified for [USA Wrestling] Junior Nationals," Kemerer said. "Devin [Brown] wasn't at the state tournament because he was at the Fila Junior World Team Trials, but he already qualified for Junior Nationals."
Junior Nationals will take place from July 19-26 at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
"This will be my third trip to Fargo," Kemerer said. "I placed fifth in my first appearance and finished seventh last year. It's the toughest tournament in the country every year. My ultimate goal is to win a national title."
Kemerer may also be going to Oklahoma City at the end of June. The Junior National Duals will take place there June 26-28, and he may be invited to wrestle on the Pennsylvania team.
"They haven't picked the Pennsylvania team yet," Kemerer said. "I would be surprised if they didn't invite me. But if they do invite me, I'm not sure whether I'll accept.
"There are positives and negatives to wrestling at the Junior National Duals. The positive thing is that I would get a chance to wrestle some of the kids I would face at Fargo. The negative is that you have to wrestle as many as 10 matches. That really beats you up. I may be better off staying home and training for Fargo."
Kemerer, Shields and Maruca did wrestle at the National High School Coaches Association Duals, which took place two weekends ago in Virginia Beach, Va.
"We were on the Young Guns Black team," said Kemerer, referring to the Young Guns Wrestling Club, which had several teams entered in the folkstyle competition. "We wrestled 10 matches and won the team title. It was a lot of fun."
Kemerer could also wrestle June 27-30 at the Disney Duals, but has decided to pass it up.
"I have to pick and choose over the summer," Kemerer said. "It's very expensive to be going on all of these trips."
Kemerer and his Franklin Regional teammates were not directly affected by the horrific events of April 9, when a fellow student stabbed 19 students and one adult. The aftermath is what sticks with him.
"The first thing I did was to see if any of my teammates were hurt," Kemerer said. "Fortunately, none of us were hurt. The thing that sticks with me the most is how everybody reacted. It was amazing how everybody, the students and the community, came together."