Following his eighth-grade year, Orono wrestler Charlie Schmid grew.

He went from wrestling at 112 pounds to 140 pounds in ninth grade. Needless to say, Schmid, now a junior, took a few lumps.

"It wasn't much fun," he said. "I was going up against guys who were a lot stronger physically and I was losing a lot. And I didn't take losing well."

He almost quit. It took a lot of soul-searching and more than a little prodding from family members to get Schmid back on the mat.

"The coaches called me and they know my dad really well, too. They had to talk me into it," Schmid said.

Good thing. Less than two years removed from wanting to walk away, he is 11-0 this season at 160 pounds and enjoying the sport more than ever.

"I'm glad I stuck it out," he said. "Wrestling is more fun know than it's ever been."

Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Schmid about his renewed commitment and his future wrestling goals.

Q Assess your season so far.

A I've actually liked this season more than I ever have. People have been expecting a lot out of me, and I've kind of surprised myself at how well I'm doing. And I like it not only because of myself but because of the team we have. This team is so much better than any other team I've been on.

Q Why do you think you've had the individual success this season?

A I know I want it a lot more than I used to. In past years, wrestling would come along and I would just go through the motions. This year, this is something I want.

Q What is driving you?

A I really like the coaches a lot. They're the same coaches I had last year and they made it more enjoyable. And I had pretty good success in football this year, so that's helped.

Q What position did you play in football?

A I was a linebacker and a running back. I played at about 175, 180 pounds.

Q Was it tough to drop the weight to get to 160?

A Not really. I started eating healthier and watching what I ate a couple of weeks before the end of the football season. I tried to get down more slowly.

Q How did you change your diet?

A I eat a lot of protein, like meat and eggs, and I pretty much cut out carbs. And I eat a lot of fruit and drink sports drinks like Gatorade.

Q What is your wrestling style?

A I'm kind of slow when both of us are [standing] up. Then I go for quick shots. I like riding. That's my favorite. I seem to be able to keep good wrestlers down and score points from riding.

Q Wrestlers and fans don't like that style because it's not exciting. Do you ever hear that?

A Yeah, all the time. People say they hate wrestling down. But if I'm hearing they don't like it, that's motivation. I must be pretty good at it.

Q Where do you see yourself at the end of the season?

A I really want to make the state tournament bad. This is my year to go and experience it and get the jitters out. And then my senior year is the year when I do something great.

Q After such a rough season two years ago, what are you enjoying the most?

A The team. I love the team. They are all good guys, and we're all best friends. It makes you want to go to practice.