Omari Green wasn't supposed to finish the Division I state wrestling tournament standing on the awards podium as one of the top eight competitors in his weight class. The Central Crossing High School junior wasn't even supposed to win a match, but he did both.

The heavyweight went 2-3 at state March 7-9 at Ohio State to finish eighth and gain aspirations of standing higher on the podium next year.

"I wasn't predicted to do anything," said Green, referring to the prognostications of several high-school wrestling websites. "I was supposed to go 0-2, and when I lost my first match I thought maybe they were right.

"I was nervous and wasn't wrestling my game. I had to trust myself a little more and my capabilities."

Green lost 6-4 to Yousef Awad of northeast Ohio's Lakewood before pinning North Olmsted's Tyler Jones in 5 minutes, 54 seconds in his first consolation match.

He guaranteed himself a spot on the podium by defeating Wooster's Jake Burns in a 3-2 sudden victory before dropping to the seventh-place match with a 5-4 loss to Cincinnati LaSalle's Robert Brown.

Green lost to Franklin Heights' Day'Myrin Jones in a 4-2 tiebreaker in an all-South-Western City Schools matchup for seventh place. He was pinned by Jones in 1 minute, 29 seconds in the district final March 2 at Hilliard Darby and also lost 5-2 in a semifinal match in the Comet Classic on Jan. 12.

Green said he wanted a third shot at Jones at state, but came up short in the match.

"(Being on the podium) was interesting because I was the lowest one there, but it's an achievement and it's something they can't take away from me," said Green, who finished 37-10 overall. "Hopefully I'll get up there higher next year. I'll be gunning for the guys who beat me here and throughout the season.

"I can't gun for (Jones) anymore. He's a senior, and he'll be gone. I still believe I can beat him, but he bested me here. You have to give him credit for making me eat my words."

Green was the only state competitor for the Comets, who tied for 49th (5 points) behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (194.5) as 72 teams scored.

"This means everything," Green said of placing at state. "It makes me a lot hungrier because I know it wasn't a fluke.

"Whatever opportunity I can get to get better, that's what I'm going to do. Whether that is Greco-Roman, freestyle or even freaking jiu-jitsu, I'll do whatever I can do."

Ninth-year coach Jamie Ramirez likes what he saw from Green in his first state appearance.

"I think getting Omari here and seeing the arena and seeing the competition was great," Ramirez said. "He wrestled well and was in all of his matches. He knows he belongs here. He's on the podium.

"We tell our wrestlers that there are no guarantees next year. There can be injuries, skin problems or they can just flat-out not make it (back to state). You have to set your goals now to see where you want to end up next year."

Green was runner-up at district and in a sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville.

Also competing at district were senior Hudson Leapley (132 pounds; 1-2), junior Nathan Vanhouten (182; 1-2) and freshman Uniah Neville (113; 0-2). Neville got in as an alternate while sophomore Abel Garantche qualified but did not compete at 220 because of a hip injury.

"A lot of our kids were young and they weren't ready for the varsity lineup," Ramirez said. "They were just getting beaten up, but we had a great end of the year starting at sectional. We weren't talking wins and losses or qualifiers but effort. Something started to click and then we had some kids qualify to district.

"Only one of (the district qualifiers) was a senior so that gives you some confidence. We're really happy with Omari placing at state. We're happy with that but at the same time, we're already thinking about next year."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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