Mental toughness leads Eldon’s Gerber to 100 career wins

Michael Losch
Eldon senior Aidan Gerber.

On a Saturday in St. Clair in the middle of a tournament, Eldon senior Aidan Gerber found himself in a position to secure a pin fall victory and waited for the official’s signal.

Once the official’s hand smacked the mat, it became official- the senior had just earned the 100th win of his career.

The milestone victory on January 23, just like the 99 before it over the course of Gerber’s career, was proof that his time and investment meant something. That every moment spent inside that circle on the mat was not for nothing.

“It feels like hard work and determination paid off after four years of actually putting in the grind and seeing your success actually work out,” the senior said of the milestone.

Hard work is only half the equation, though. Gerber’s mentality was just as important in making that milestone a reality and his own journey did not come without some tests and challenges along the way- one of them being the fact that his father passed away from brain cancer last summer.

“You have to push through everything. I lost my father and I had to push through that,” Gerber said. “Everything is mental. Even though there are difficulties that come through, you have to push through it and if not, you are not going to be successful. It is all in your head.”

Looking ahead to his senior year as a Mustang, Gerber decided to show what was capable of on the mat and he has dedicated this final season to his father with the hopes of reaching the state tournament. The senior enters the postseason at 35-7 and he is currently sitting at 103 wins.

“He is a different wrestler this year,” Eldon coach Ryan Bird noted of Gerber. “For the first three years he was moving forward, not sprawling and not being real active. He is going side to side now, is a lot more receptive to coaching and his mindset has changed. I think he is on a bit of a mission this year.”

And the coach said it is not just evident during matches, but each day in practice, too.

“Aidan is a pretty good guy to watch in the room. He is not a real vocal leader, but he works hard when he is here, he is going 100 percent, he helps out his partners and he is a good guy to to have in the room,” Bird stated.

In reaching 100 wins, Gerber joins a club of some fairly good company. Former Mustang wrestlers Trenton Dillon, Dawson Brandt, Isaiah Simmons and Kaden Dillon all previously hit the milestone and three of those wrestlers became state champions while another reached the state finals.

“It shows I have the determination and grit they had, that I’m carrying on the legacy of putting in the work,” Gerber said of joining the 100-win club. “It shows we still care and want to keep pushing forward. It is all put into place and each generation has to push- there is still a goal to reach.”

The senior said embracing accountability is one of the reasons he loves the sport and he hopes his example may show others how important that idea is as well as following a passion. He also loves the bonds he has formed with his teammates and the program overall the past four years.

“My experience here, personally with wrestling, is it is a family. Everyone has your back, and it teaches you in life that through hard work and dedication almost anything is possible,” Gerber pointed out. “Whenever you have a family behind you, you are almost unstoppable.”

That is precisely what he is hoping to be at districts and any match he may have beyond it. He is grateful to even simply be wrestling in the first place after the COVID-19 pandemic stripped away a track and field season this past spring and time will soon tell how much further his current journey will go as he goes for his 104th win and more.

“Just watch the leaders in the room and see what the guys who are winning are doing. We talked a lot about how your results are directly related to effort and coachability so we have guys who are figuring that out now and are winning more than they were,” Bird noted. “I think Aidan figured that out early this year so the amount you are willing to change and get out of your comfort zone is a direct reflection of how your season is going to go.”