Sports

H-F’s Odumosu looking for another state title

Ini Odumosu aims to defend her state championship this season
for H-F. (David P. Funk/H-F Chronicle)

Ini Odumosu doesn’t fit the stereotype of a wrestler. 

The Homewood-Flossmoor senior is a Nigerian immigrant who moved to the US as an 8-year-old. The sport wasn’t something she did growing up. She just came out for the team as a freshman because it looked interesting.

Odumosu is also a little more cerebral than most who don the headgear. She’s an AP student who hopes to study molecular biology, cultural learning and/or linguistics in college as she prepares to be an obstetrician. 

But none of that means she’s not a wrestler. Odumosu is a fighter when she needs to be.

“When you come from an immigrant family, you kind of have to push through,” she said. “I can’t give up. So, I was like ‘Let me give this a little bit more of a push.’” 

Some of that is her background as an immigrant. She said that experience teaches her perseverance and self-reliance. It helps with her gas tank in that third period, but also during practice and conditioning. 

After her first match, she was sore in places she didn’t know she could be sore. After a few tournaments, she considered giving up. That’s not what she’s about, though. 

“What you put into this sport is what you get out of it,” she said. “When I realized that, I started working harder in practice. I didn’t miss any tournaments. I was early at every practice. I basically threw myself at the wrestling world hoping to get something out of it and that’s exactly what’s happening.” 

Odumosu already has a fifth-place finish and state title to her name. She’s aiming to add to her trophy case this winter.

Coach Scott Aronson said he knew Odumosu was special when he had her in an online AP course during the pandemic. She was one of the only students with her camera on, up front and attentive. She was one of the few who passed the AP exam that semester.

“She’s brilliant,” Aronson said. “She came out the next year and I didn’t put it together at first that it was the same kid. She’s just a natural athlete. Within the first two weeks, every coach in the room was like ‘Who’s that? She’s going to be good.’” 

On the mat, Aronson describes Odumosu as a “Mack truck.” She’s different from Attalia Watson-Castro, H-F’s graduated two-time state champion, Aronson said. There wasn’t a lot to teach Watson-Castro.

“I can’t say (Odumosu is) a good technical wrestler because she’s only two and a half years in, so she doesn’t know all the moves. But she’s so coachable and she wants to pick up more stuff,” he said. “It’s fun to coach her. It’s fun to teach her. She’s just solid. If she takes a shot on a girl, she’s going to get it.” 

The one problem Odumosu has, both she and Aronson agree, is that she’s sometimes a little too heady for her own good. Sometimes too much goes into thinking about the next move rather than just reacting.

“If she just let it go, she would just be devastating,” Aronson said. “(Her ceiling is) the Olympics, a gold medal. She’s that good. She’s that athletic.”

Whether anything beyond high school wrestling happens for Odumosu is still up in the air. She doesn’t need the sport to earn scholarships and the time requirements that come with being a college athlete give her pause, considering the workload she’ll be taking on.

She’s still in contact with a few college coaches and plans to make a final decision soon.

“It’s very iffy for me right now. I’m stuck in a middle place,” Odumosu said. 

The Vikings went to the Findlay Invitational in Ohio just before Christmas. It’s one of the most difficult girls tournaments in the country. That’s the type of thing that H-F hopes prepare it for the state series. 

Repeating as team points champion is a goal. Aronson said he’d like to see a half dozen state qualifiers. Odumosu wants to be atop the podium, again, but would also like to see some of the younger girls on the team do well. 

More importantly, though, Odumosu wants to see her wrestling partner Jocelyn Williams win a state title, too. An injury took away Williams’ chance to do that last year.

“What would make me so happy is for both of us to win state,” Odumosu said. “Even if I’m not going to college (to wrestle), I can feel satisfied that I got state and my partner on this team got first place, also.” 

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