Justin Herbert ’09 capped a stellar season with a sixth-place finish in the 174-pound weight class at the 104th Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championship Tournament, which was hosted by F&M.
One of three junior tri-captains on the Franklin & Marshall wrestling roster, he finished the season with a record of 27-5. He also had 17 pins, 14 coming in the first period.
His successful junior year, impressive work ethic and eager-to-learn attitude suggest that his senior year may be even better.
“He has always had the physical side of it [wrestling] down, and he has always had the intensity,” says Pete Schuyler, F&M’s head coach. “Now he is cleaning up technically. He is a little slicker out there, and now he is really able to grind opponents down.”
Arriving at this point has not come about by accident. The New Milford, Pa., native opted to stay in Lancaster last summer. He worked with the College’s facilities and operations team painting various buildings on campus and spent his spare time in the W. Roy Phillips ’34 Wrestling Room drilling with Schuyler.
“Justin is that rare athlete who just seems to do everything right,” says Schuyler. “He delivers on everything you ask of him and a little bit more.”
When F&M’s grapplers board a bus for a road trip, Herbert shows up in a suit. When the wrestlers break practice, Herbert sticks around for a little more drilling. While his classmates study hard, Herbert studies his way into a 2007 National College Wrestling Association (NCWA) Scholar All-American honor. And over the summer, when others took breaks, Herbert’s paint roller often kept on rolling.
“Justin just works hard,” said Ed Montgomery, Herbert’s immediate supervisor in facilities and operations.
“He would often set the pace for the day.”
Schuyler would like to see his other wrestlers follow Herbert’s lead. “I hope that his teammates can find a way to feed off his energy,” says the veteran coach.
“He is not a rah-rah guy who is going to deliver an emotional pre-match speech. He is a humble wrestler who puts his team before himself, sometimes to a flaw.”
That flaw manifested itself in a bout against a Harvard University opponent last year. Herbert repeatedly looked for throws off a headlock and found himself taken down with each attempt. Despite Schuyler’s efforts to convince Herbert to stop looking for the six team points and wrestle for his own win, the captain persisted on behalf of his teammates to a 6-4 defeat.
Sacrifice is nothing new for Herbert, an F&M Presidential Scholar. The self-admitted Discovery Channel junkie has forsaken many of the abundant social opportunities on and around the Lancaster campus for a life of studying and wrestling. A geosciences major carrying a grade-point average well above the 3.0 mark, Herbert has his post-collegiate sights set on the mining industry.