Weeki Wachee’s Schmidt extends mat career, inks with JUCO Rowan College Roadrunners

WRESTLING

Two-year Hornet

starter also played

varsity football

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

In one of last moves as Weeki Wachee’s wrestling coach, skipper Dan Gigantelli saw one of his own sign to compete at the next level.

Jason Schmidt

Prior to the end of his three-year reign as the Hornets’ mentor, Gigantelli attended Jason Matthew Schmidt’s junior college signing to Rowan College at Gloucester County, New Jersey.

Schmidt, 17, competed for the Hornets the past two winters, compiling a fine 49-31 (.613 percent) overall record, featuring 36 pin falls.

Schmidt 411

Jason was born in Salem, New Jersey as the youngest of two children to Jaime Noble.

His mother relocated to Spring Hill in 2013 and serves as a medical coder for nearby Access Healthcare.

Athletically-speaking, Schmidt’s mother wasn’t the source of his athletic gene pool. She didn’t play any sports in school.

Jason’s father, who is not a part of his family now, however, was extremely active playing football, wrestling and participating in track and field.

In retracing his athletic roots, Jason’s initial organized sport was recreational soccer at 3 years old.

He participated on the pitch for two seasons.

Next, he participated in basketball for two years at the local rec center followed by joining the local tackle football league at the same locale during fifth-grade..

Fox Chapel Tigers

Once the family relocated to Spring Hill, Schmidt matriculated to Fox Chapel Middle School.

Though he didn’t play any sports during sixth-grade, he served as an offensive lineman and middle linebacker for the Tigers during his seventh-grade season.

As an eighth-grader, he also played both ways for the football team.

Upon enrolling at Weeki Wachee High School, Schmidt navigated toward junior varsity football as a freshman and sophomore.

He was promoted to the varsity roster for his last two seasons, where he served mostly in the trenches.

Gigantelli, the Hornets’ offensive coordinator, recruited Schmidt to join his wrestling team.

Dan Gigantelli

In Year 1 in 2017-18, Schmidt finished 22-21.

He was knocked out – one of 11 Hornets ousted during the rugged Class 1A, Region II Meet – during regional competition at Lakeland‘s George Jenkins High School after going 1-2 at 195 pounds.

The current 6-foot, 188-pounder enjoyed his mat experience so much, he focused even harder in the off season prior to his senior year.

The additional training paved the way for a 27-10 run as a senior.

But during the 1A-II Meet – this time at Orlando’s Master’s Academy – Schmidt was ousted following a 2-2 run, featuring two pins.

His season was highlighted by earning the Hornets’ lone district championship at 195 pounds during the Class 1A, District 5 Tournament at Michael A. Imhoff Gymnasium at Hernando High.

Nature Coast’s Ashton Harding turns Weeki Wachee’s Jason Schmidt toward his back.                          Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

The district title turned out to be huge as brown-tressed and bluish-green-eyed Schmidt, who was the lone Hornet to named to the 2018-19 All-Hernando County Wrestling Team.

Outside of the mats, Schmidt maintained a 3.0 unweighted and 3.25 weighted grade point average.

His favorite courses included English IV and economics.

He aspires to become a math teacher and a high school coach.

“I’ve always been good in math,: explained Schmidt, who doesn’t turn 18 until September. “It interests me. It’s something where my friends, who struggled with math, I could help them as a teacher and a coach.”

Why wrestling?

Though Schmidt is rather new to wrestling – only competing for two seasons – he didn’t hesitate in calling it his favorite sport.

“I remember when Coach G (Gigantelli) recruited me and some of my friends for the sport,“ recalled Schmidt. “To me, once I got out there, I realized how relaxing it was for me. It brings out a special bond among the competitors.

On why Schmidt stayed with it, “Part of it was the success. We won a lot of matches. The other thing was they had a spot for me right away; and I didn‘t have to cut weight to make it.

“…The great benefit of wrestling was it kept me in shape for football. It taught me how to adapt on the mat. How to become stronger and be more free flowing.”

Weeki Wachee’s Klebert Charles and Jason Schmidt pull down Gulf High’s running back. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Asked to define the difference between Year 1 and Year 2, “I remember working super hard in the off season before my senior year,” he revealed. “I worked my butt off in the room. I even went to (wresting) camp in Georgia – that really helped.”

Schmidt was asked to describe the difference from Year 1o Year 2.

“I my first year, I wrestled in practice against Patrick (Webb-Melton) and Derrick (Martins). Both of those guys were bigger and much more experienced than I was.

“… Patrick was just a tough guy. He was the type of kid that never gave up. Against him, I had to wrestle smart.

“…Derrick was more of a finesse kid. He was good on his feet. I tried to use my strength a little more against him,” emphasized Schmidt.

“This year, I went up against Deacon (Straube) and Klebert (Charles) most of the year. Deacon is much bigger than I am. He has a great motor. He’s super strong. Against Klebert, he was a crazy athletic kid.”

In analyzing his style on the mats, ‘When I first started, my neutral position wasn’t very good,” noted Schmidt. “I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable on my feet. It’s helped so much that I’m a lot better in finishing my shots.”

“When I look in the mirror, “I’d say I’m pretty aggressive. I’ve really turned things around in the neutral position. In practice, the coaches were always insisting that I take more shots.”

On evaluating his senior campaign, “I had my ups and downs,” shared Schmidt. “I felt like I fell a little short of my goals of reaching states.

“I can’t shake that regional. I didn’t wrestle like I could’ve. I lost matches that shouldn’t have. Deep down, I knew I gave it my all, though,

“…The biggest lesson I learned was you can’t stress an official’s call. You have to be cool and composed out there always.”

Why Rowan?

Schmidt said he turned down some offers prior to signing with the Roadrunners in New Jersey.

“I had a few offers. I thought I could do better. Ultimately, I chose Rowan because I’ve only been wrestling a couple of years and getting more mat experience wouldn’t hurt.”

Schmidt said mulled over offers from Wilkes-Barre University in Pennsylvania and Springfield College in Boston.

“I really thought I could develop more if I went to a JUCO first,“ he summed up. “Plus, my grandma lives near campus and has a place that I could live at.”

Relocating back to the colder climes wasn’t even considered.

“I love the cold weather,“ shared Schmidt. ‘Actually, I’m looking forward to the move. I report in September. Right now, I’m working out and eating better. I workout at Planet Fitness 5-6 days a week. I usually spend 15-20 minutes alone doing cardio stuff.”

On what Schmidt says he needs to improve on before navigating over 15 hours via automobile and almost 1,000 from Weeki Wachee to Rowan College, “I have to work on getting stronger. In college, kids aren’t going to be lacking. That’s why I work out as much as I do.”

On overcoming his biggest obstacle with the Roadrunners, “It’s definitely on my planning. Balancing my school work, athletics and maybe a part-time job – that won’t be easy.”

On Schmidt’s legacy, “That I always tried helping others; helping them through the tough times and I tried inspiring other people.”

By the Numbers:

Weeki Wachee’s Jason Schmidt (2017-19)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Jason Schmidt
 

YEAR

 

YR

 

W

 

L

 

PCT

 

PINS

2017-18

11

22

21

.512

15

2018-19*

12

27

10

.730

21

 

TOTALS

 

49

 

31

 

.613

 

36

* Denotes All-Hernando County selection.

 

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