Jamie Ramirez had a hollow feeling when he attended the state wrestling tournament at Ohio State.
The third-year coach of the Central Crossing High School wrestling team knew he should have been on the floor of Value City Arena instead of being in the stands during the Division I state tournament held Feb. 28-March 2.
Josh Wimer had qualified for state at 120 pounds but was scratched because of a skin irritation. The junior had placed fifth at 106 last season.
Ramirez found solace in the fact that all seven of his team's district qualifiers are expected to return next season.
"Watching state was tough when you know you were supposed to have one here," he said. "One of the things that makes me feel better is that we have a lot of young kids coming back and we could have a busy schedule on that floor (at Value City Arena) next year."
Wimer placed second in the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Darby, losing to Olentangy Orange's Artem Timchenko 3-2 in the final to finish 41-5 on the season. Timchenko reached the state final with a 36-0 record.
Wimer was the Comets' lone state qualifier.
"A doctor cleared Josh to wrestle a couple of days before the meet, but they would not clear him at weigh-in before state," Ramirez said. "That made it tough because Josh lost at district by one point to Timchenko, who made the final.
"Josh had a lot of hard work and preparation to reach state and he was devastated. I told him that it wasn't the end of the world and that sometimes life deals you things like this. You can't make it go away. You have to just deal with it and get ready for next year."
The Comets lose two seniors in Marco Byas (160) and Kyle Farris (145).
"I was with Kyle for three years and he was just a steady, dependable kid that I will miss having around," Ramirez said. "Marco Byas was a first-year wrestler as a senior and made a lot of strides for being new to the program."
The Comets scored 46 points at district to finish 18th (46) behind champion Marysville (163) as 35 teams scored.
Freshman Jackson Lakso went 3-3 at district to place sixth at 106. He finished 32-16.
Also competing at district were junior Gavin McKenney at 126 (2-2, 23-18) and four freshmen in Robbie Fusner at 195 (2-2, 26-16), Ethan Leapley at 132 (2-2, 20-18), Kameron Teacher at heavyweight (1-2, 18-18) and James Wimer at 113 (2-2, 26-16).
Central Crossing finished fourth (145.5) in a 10-team sectional Feb. 16 at Westland behind champion Hilliard Davidson (224.5).
The Comets went 2-5 in OCC-Central Division duals to tie Dublin Coffman for sixth, behind Marysville (7-0), Thomas Worthington (6-1), Davidson (5-2), Olentangy Liberty (3-4) and Upper Arlington (3-4) and ahead of Westland (0-7).
In the inaugural state team tournament, sixth-seeded Central Crossing lost to second-seeded UA 40-34 in a Region 6 second-round match Jan. 30 after defeating third-seeded Columbus West 55-24 in the first round Jan. 23.
Also expected to return are junior Hunter Taylor (152), sophomores Kyle Collins (120), Casey Davis (138) and Garrett Heydt (132) and freshmen Jacob Chapman (132), Nick Creasap (152), Yazan Karajat (145), Jonathan Kowalski (132), Nathaniel Kowalski (132), Hunter Pemberton (182), J.D. Woods (106) and Derek Wurzauf (138).
"I'm already super excited about next year," Ramirez said. "We will have all of our district-qualifiers returning and some of them should be around for a while. These kids are already talking about open mats and spring and summer workouts. There's a lot to be excited about."
Greyhounds expect core to return
Grove City did not have any Division I state qualifiers, but it had eight district qualifiers, including Chandler Evanichko.
The junior heavyweight was a state alternate after going 4-2 and placing fifth at district. He finished 42-9.
"You are going to see a whole new Evanichko next year," Evanichko said. "The people who beat me (at district) will graduate, so nothing should be in my way. I have to work as hard as I can to get better."
Senior Tavon Hudson went 3-3 at district and placed sixth at 195, finishing 28-18.
Also competing at district were seniors Zane Chappelear at 152 (1-2, 29-10) and Vince Plageman at 182 (1-2, 9-6), juniors Justin Belmonte at 220 (0-2, 14-17) and Cole Capehart at 120 (0-2, 16-23) and freshman Will Marshall at 106 (1-2, 25-18).
Junior Cortez Marshall (113) also was a district qualifier but had to withdraw because of a leg injury, finishing 21-21.
The Greyhounds finished 23rd (25) at district.
"We qualified eight to district, which is great, and five of them were underclassmen," sixth-year coach Jay DiMasso said. "That bodes well for the future. We only lose four seniors and we wrestled a lot of big tournaments with only two of them, so essentially we were a team of underclassmen."
The fourth senior was Nick Butsko (160).
Others expected to return include juniors Tristan Dingess (195), Zack Elswick (132), Dylan Kirk (132), Cornelius Marshall (126) and Luke Woodring (138), sophomores Drew Capehart (170), Jake Crosby (182) and Austin Hughes (106) and freshman Canaan Dick (145).
Grove City placed fifth (145) in the sectional at Westland and went 3-4 in the OCC-Ohio to finish fifth, behind co-champions Pickerington Central (6-1) and Pickerington North (6-1), Gahanna (5-2) and Lancaster (5-2) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (2-5), Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-7).
In the Division I state team tournament, the fourth-seeded Greyhounds lost to top-seeded Davidson 46-20 in the second round in Region 6 on Jan. 30 after defeating fifth-seeded Westland 42-30 in the first round Jan. 23.