Coach Jamie Ramirez is excited about what lies ahead for the Central Crossing wrestling program -- if his underclassmen put in the necessary work.

Ramirez believes offseason workouts, along with tournaments and camps, can make the difference between an average wrestler and a district qualifier.

The Comets have two wrestlers expected back after competing in the Division I district tournament March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby. They are junior Abel Garantche (195 pounds) and freshman Donnie Morris (120).

"Sometimes kids are really gung-ho at the end of the season and they talk about how they are going to do this or they are going to do that in the offseason, but then we never see them again until November," said Ramirez, who completed his 10th season. "We have a bunch of kids who have been around wrestling for a while and their parents have been around wrestling for a while, and that's a big key. If you get the parents to buy in, that helps. We only know one way to do this and that's to keep working hard all year."

Omari Green (heavyweight, first-team all-league), Derek Layne (138) and Nate VanHouten (170, second-team all-league) were the team's seniors.

Green finished fifth at district and was an alternate for state, which originally was scheduled for March 13-15 at Ohio State. The OHSAA canceled the remaining winter tournaments March 26 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Green finished eighth at state as a junior. He said his hard work paid off, but sometimes it's still not enough.

"There is no substitute for hard work," said Green, who finished 40-5. "Nothing is granted. Everything is earned. Sometimes you can do all of the right things and it still gets taken away from you. It's all about holding your head high and facing your demons with dignity."

The Comets had only three juniors in Michael Bradshaw (170), Ali El-Barati (152) and Garantche. The remaining 20 athletes on the roster were freshmen and sophomores.

Garantche (second-team all-league) went 2-2 at district to finish 29-17.

"(Wrestling at district) will help show me what I'm lacking and what moves I need to work on for next year," he said. "This will give me a lot of growth. I can't wait to get back here next year."

Morris went 0-2 at district to finish 6-16. He said there was a steep learning curve in his jump from middle school to high school.

"I learned a lot of technique and skills this year," he said. "Last year it was about outmuscling people (in middle school) and this was a lot different."

Other expected returnees who competed at sectional are sophomores Shane Baas (182), Patrick Hughes (132) and Freddie Ramirez (220) and freshmen Caleb Eads (106), Ryder Gwartney (160), Jamie Ramirez (126) and Jayden Vazquez (138).

"We're young, but a lot of people are young," coach Ramirez said. "Young people are producing right now (in a lot of programs), and we have to figure out how to get the most out of them.

"I'm excited about their future, as long as they keep working. We keep providing the opportunities (such as offseason workouts in open gyms) and hopefully that will pay off for us."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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