WADSWORTH — Jordan Earnest put the final stamp on an illustrious high school wrestling career the only way he knew how.
Competing in the Junior National Freestyle Duals, the 2018 Wadsworth graduate and state champion won a national title with Team Ohio in Tulsa, Okla.
“It was all about the experience and journey,” Earnest said. “It was awesome to meet new friends and wrestle with some of the best kids from Ohio. I thought it was the perfect way to close out my senior year after winning a state title.”
Already an individual national champion after winning the heavyweight division at the 2017 UWW Nationals, Earnest was looking for one more notch to put on his belt before heading to wrestle for Ohio University.
He found it with the likes of the biggest names around the state, as he joined fellow state champions Vic Voinovich of Brecksville, Jordan Crace of Elyria, Lucas Byrd of LaSalle and Dylan D’Emilio of Genoa and nine other state placers to join an all-star cast for Team Ohio.
“I think it’s all that more special to win it as a team because it’s not just you anymore,” Earnest said. “You have to have all your teammates working together. Everyone is wrestling so that the team can win.
“I knew I was one of the better kids in the country, and I knew I deserved to be out there and win. I think this will help the kids going to Fargo (next week) a lot. They know who they’re going to wrestle, and they know they’ve already wrestled the better kids in the nation.”
Those elite few that will head to Fargo, N.D., next week for the Junior Nationals can look at Earnest as a benchmark.
Earnest went 6-1 in his showing for Team Ohio, losing to only Missouri senior Brooks Baker, who is a two-time state champion and one-time state runner-up.
Earnest won twice by technical fall and once by pin, and his points arguably were the difference for Team Ohio in the 33-32 championship win over Team Minnesota.
“I feel like all college matches will be that intense,” Earnest said. “The whole match was amazing. Everyone was shouting the whole time and people were arguing over calls. The two teams were going at it pretty much the whole time. You knew everyone was watching our match. You could see everyone in the stands dialed in. It was just a palpable kind of tension in the air because they knew what was hanging in the balance.”
Ironically, the thought of a championship didn’t start in pool wins over North Dakota, Washington and Oklahoma, the quarterfinal victory over Colorado or the semifinal triumph over Missouri, but earlier in the week when much of the team finished fourth in the Greco-Roman Tournament.
“People were thinking about it before the Greco Tournament, but once we finished fourth in Greco, we really knew that we could do this,” Earnest said. “We had a lot of close matches, but a lot of us were freestyle guys, so we knew we’d do better.”