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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 29, 2014

Thoughts of predestination

By BROOKS TAYLOR - Mt. Pleasant News | Apr 06, 2012

I’ve never given pre-destination much thought, figuring there was plenty of time for that later….or is there?

While I believe that some of the choices we make in life can and do have a direct impact on our longevity, I am beginning to think when it is time to go, there is no arguing.

The pre-destination thoughts surfaced for a couple of days recently when I was surfing the web and learned of the death of a kid I had covered in sports earlier this century. The news of the death, naturally, shocked and saddened me.

Aaron Wernimont was one of those kids you will never forget, not because of his prowess on the wrestling mat, but because of his character. I have had a hand in this sports thing for decades and Wernimont was the nicest and most resepectful high school male athlete. I thought that while covering him in high school and occasional conversations in the years following only reinforced that belief. You’ve heard the saying “as great an athlete he is, he is even a better person.” Whoever coined the phrase must have had Wernimont in mind.

Wernimont died suddenly earlier this month in Bloomington, Ind., where he was an optometry student at Indiana University. I am not sure of his age, but 27 would hit it pretty close.

According to news reports, his wife, Kahri (whom he married in August 2011), awoke to her husband gasping for air. She immediately called 911.

When medics arrived, they frantically began life-saving procedures while trying to discover if he was on any medications or had any health issues before transporting him to the hospital. He died en route to the hospital.

What makes his death so shocking is not only his age, but Wernimont was a standout athlete and in peak physical condition. He was training to run a marathon at the time of his death.

In high school wrestling, he lost four matches in four years. Three of the losses came at the state wrestling tournament. He was a state champ his junior season, a runner-up his senior and sophomore seasons and finished third as a freshman.

However, Wernimont’s best wrestling years were ahead of him. He attended West Point after high school but got in a little trouble that freshman year. He was reprimanded for smiling too much. Yes, that is a true story.

He transferred to Wartburg College his sophomore year and became one of top wrestlers ever in a legendary program. He was a three time all-American and two-time NCAA Division III national champion, winning his final 80 collegiate matches.

Others saw Wernimont through the same glasses as me. “Aaron lived everyday to the fullest. He really, really enjoyed life. You never saw him without a smile. It was one of the many things I learned from him,” said Wartburg co-head coach Eric Keller, a former teammate.

Another former coach said, “I had the pleasure of calling him a friend. He was one of the nicest happiest people you could ever meet. I had the pleasure of coaching him in junior high baseball, he was just a ton of fun to be around. He just always had the winning attitude about him and made everyone better. He is going to be missed.”

Judging by the good character Wernimont displayed while in high school and college, you just knew he would be an even better person as an adult. He was one of those people who would have made a difference and the world a better place to live.

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