Liberty's Omelio makes his break Junior rebounds from missed season

January 29, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

A broken ankle once forced Anthony Omelio of Liberty to miss a year of wrestling.

His opponents probably are wishing he never came back.

Omelio missed his freshman year two years ago with the broken ankle but rebounded with a perfect record -- including the county championship -- on the junior varsity last season.

This season, his first on the varsity, he has won 10 of 14 matches.

The 5-foot-3, 103-pound junior credits winning his first match of the season -- in overtime -- and taking the Francis Scott Key tournament with being the sparks for him.

Omelio opened the season with a 5-3 overtime decision over Relly Evans of Hammond. Later, at the Key tournament, Omelio won his weight class despite being the bottom seed of eight wrestlers.

He beat three of the top four seeds at Key for the title.

"I figured I had nothing to lose," said Omelio. "That was the best I've wrestled all year."

Omelio edged Jason Hooper of Francis Scott Key, 4-2, for the title. Hooper had pinned Omelio earlier in the season.

"That's a very good indication of the type of kid he is," said Libertycoach Jeff Hash.

Hash said Omelio needs more upper-body strength to improve next year. This year, Omelio is without a pin.

After the season, Omelio will go on an extensive weight-lifting program to bulk up. Omelio's sister, Michele, a national power-lifting champion in 1989, will help.

Weight, specifically making it, has been Omelio's biggest problem this season. Omelio said his natural weight is around 110 pounds, and twice he couldn't make 103 and wrestled at 112.

Omelio has found trouble even when he made 103. When the Lions played host to Chopticon and Hammond in early January, Omelio weighed in 1 1/2 pounds heavy before the match.

He then ran around the school for 30 minutes to make weight. Drained by the effort, he quickly was pinned by the Chopticon wrestler in the day's first match. About three hours later, he was rested and scored an easy win against Hammond.

Hash said Omelio's consistent work at the start of a match often sparks the Lions.

"He gives you everything he has,"said Hash. "I think it's important [that] the person that goes out there [have] a positive attitude and confidence in himself. It comes off as an inspiration."

Omelio's comeback could be called inspirational. After finishing third in the junior league state tournament with the South Carroll Warriors in the eighth grade, he suffered the fracture in soccer practice in September 1990.

He did nothing physical for nearly six months and didn't wrestle again until November 1991, a layoff of two years.

Omelio came back with style last year, going 15-0 on the Lions' junior varsity, winning the county championship at 103. He also split two varsity matches.

This year, Omelio said he is learning what it takes to find success as a varsity wrestler.

"You have to be a lot smarter on mat awareness," said Omelio. "If you make a mistake, the wrestlers are good enough to catch you and the consequences won't be too good."

Omelio is hoping for his consequences to keep getting better. He would like to make the state tournament this year and do even more next year.

"I've been a lot smarter, I've been a lot more aggressive," Omelio said. "I'm hoping next year will be my year."

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