For now, all Messiah junior Jeremy Myers can do is watch.
It's something new to him, he's been wrestling since he was 8 and had never missed a match.
The pain in his back has been with him off and on for most of his wrestling years. It didn't stop him from winning a high school state title in 1992 for the North Carroll Panthers, or keep him from going 66-12 in his first two years at Messiah.
Myers was 11-1 early this season at 126 pounds when December came and the pain finally got to be too much. It hurt most when he would shoot in for a single leg and push off against an opponent.
"My shoulder would go numb a lot through high school. This year, it got so bad I couldn't feel my hand. It gradually got worse and worse. It happened a couple of times in practice and three or four straight matches, so I thought I'd better take a break and went to the doctor," Myers said.
The doctor found a herniated disk and Myers was told he would have to sit out the rest of the season. Myers said the herniation is not active and won't get any worse. He added that no surgery was necessary and the break from wrestling should help it get smaller.
He's making the best of the situation. Messiah, under fifth-year coach Neil Turner, is 14-2 and ranked third in the NCAA Division III East Region. Myers is limited to a supporting role, and Turner said he's still making a contribution by being out there with his teammates.
"It's kind of tough because I'd much rather be competing," he said. "It's nice to have a break. I sit there on the sidelines, and it makes me realize how important wrestling is to me."
Turner believes the time off can become a positive.
"Sometimes when an athlete is injured and has some time off, he appreciates the sport with the time to reflect, and it makes him a better athlete when they come back. That's what we're hoping )) for with Jeremy," Turner said.
"He's going to a specialist, getting treatment, and hopefully it will reduce the irritation to the point where he can wrestle next year. We're hoping he can pick up right where he left off."
Until then, Myers is finding a lot of free time these days.
He's studying sports and exercise science and plans to get his master's degree in sports psychology with the hopes of becoming a guidance counselor. Last year, he was voted to the Middle Atlantic Conference All-Academic team.
He rehabs at the Keystone Spine Center in Cumberland, Pa., where they've taught him how to adjust his movements to lessen the pain. He also started to lift weights again to keep in shape, with plans of returning to the mat next year. There's unfinished business.
As a freshman, Myers finished 31-5 and was the runner-up in the NCAA Division III East Regional. He followed that with a 35-7 mark as a sophomore.
He said the chance of returning "is looking better and better" and he leaves the impresion there's no doubt in his mind he'll be back.