Perry Smith -- fresh from rolling around the wrestling mat with his newest pupil -- walked into his house and turned to his wife:

"'If Gettysburg is ever going to have a state champ, this is the kid,'" he said.

Today, nearly 20 years later, evidence of Smith's prophecy -- a maroon banner with "Ken Haines. 1995 State Champion, 189 pounds" -- hangs inside the gymnasium. Tonight, the former Gettysburg High star will return to the building where he achieved his greatest triumph to take part in another.

Haines will be inducted into the District 3 Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame at Hersheypark Arena. The man who foretold his success will present him for induction.

"He's probably one of the most humble human beings I've ever been around my entire life," Smith said. "If you ask me to describe him, that's how I'd describe him. He's incredibly humble. He's also probably the most intense human being I've ever been around. He was pretty special."

How humble?

The night Haines won the state title, his coach threw a party for him at the hotel in Hershey that lasted until 1:30 a.m. When it came time to leave, Haines' mom noticed something was missing from around her son's neck. Smith overheard mother and son:

"'Kenny, where's your medal?' He's like, 'Eh, I don't know.' So we were tearing the room apart trying to find his state medal. The kid just won a state title and he's walking out of the door not even worried about where the medal is."

How dedicated?

Neighbors on their way out would drive past Haines' house and see him outside in the yard dribbling a soccer ball through cones. They'd return hours later, driving past Hainesm who was still at it.

How intense?

Custodians at Gettysburg dared not challenge "the big redhead." Instead, they deferred to Smith, who had to tell Haines to quit running sprints in the hallways so the janitors could finish sweeping. Smith at first was just as shocked as they were to find Haines, hours after practice had ended, still plugging away all by himself.

"He's the only kid that I can honestly say, we sat him down and said, 'Kenny. You're doing too much. You're doing too much,'" Smith said.

This was evident to Haines and those close to him when in August of his junior year Haines had to bench himself during a soccer scrimmage. The captain had the ability to do that. He was that good. But on this day, something wasn't right.

It was his heart.

Haines' heart rate had sped up to a dangerous rate and extended rest on the bench would not quell it. An ambulance was called. Haines was taken to Gettysburg Hospital and then transported to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed him with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome -- an electrical disorder in the heart that can be fatal.

Doctors operated and Smith went to visit Haines the next day.

"The surgeon told me, he said, 'This kid's heartbeat was at 300 beats a minute for six hours. This kid should not be alive. He should not be alive,'" Smith recalled. "And the next thing he said to me was, 'Athletically, he's done. No more athletics.'"

But Haines was far from it.

Two months later, he was back on the soccer field and in the winter returned to the mat. He even went on to enjoy careers at Lock Haven University as standouts on the soccer and wrestling teams.

To this day, Smith shows the tape of Haines' 1995 quarterfinal bout against the top-seeded 189-pounder at states to all of his wrestlers. Smith considers it the quintessential match for any would-be Warrior wrestler. Behind early, Haines staged a comeback and upset his opponent, Craig Fenstermacher, in overtime.

"Because that one match just epitomizes everything that we try to instill upon our kids as far as, 'Just go, go go. Just be a tough son of a gun out on the mat,'" Smith said.

Smith admits Haines initially approached him when he heard he would be inducted into the District 3 Hall of Fame. Haines was embarrassed. Still humble to this day.

"I was shocked, I guess. I don't know," Haines said. "Once you get out of high school, I was done with high school sports and everything and just never felt like anything like this would ever happen."

tjohnson@eveningsun.com