In a sense, Aaron Green's wrestling career has progressed in a way that would make Frank Sinatra proud. From ignoring the advice of friends who tried to dissuade him from attending Yorktown to a year-long layoff from the sport, it seems he's done everything his way.
Initially, his coach, Scott Brooks, wasn't even sure he would return. "When he first showed up here (as a ninth grader), he came to practice one day and never came back," Brooks said. "He wasn't ready for it, because we were in here sweatin' and bangin' heads. I don't think that bothered him; it was just too inconvenient for him."
Rather than attend Yorktown as a freshman, Green decided to go to Kenmore Intermediate School and decided to work instead of wrestling.
Green's opponents, referees and even Brooks may have found him hard to understand at times, but they cannot find fault with the Yorktown senior's success. In three years, Green has gone from inactivity to state runner-up to state champion, and is looking to repeat this season. He is 13-1 at 126 pounds, his only blemish a controversial 4-3 loss to Annapolis' Dewitt Tigs in the St. Stephen's Christmas Tournament.
When Green enrolled at Yorktown a year later, Brooks advised him to disregard his friends' advice and do what he wants to do. That was just what Green needed. "He would tell me not to let (my) friends influence me and (have them) tell me 'it's too hard,' " Green said.
What sets the 5-foot-3 Green apart from his teammates is his well-developed body, a testimony to Brooks' military-like conditioning principles. It has eased Green's step up in weight from 112 to 126. "I've wrestled better at 126, been stronger and I don't get tired," he said.
Then again, Brooks wouldn't have it any other way. "It (conditioning) helps any wrestler," he said. "A wrestler in good condition is hard to beat."
Staying in shape during the year layoff eased Green's return to competition in 1984. Besides taking classes at Kenmore Intermediate School, he remained active through a part-time job and by lifting weights, squeezing in an occasional workout at Yorktown.
For each of the last two years, Green has recovered from slow periods to place in the state tournament, finishing second at 98 pounds in 1984 and winning the 112-pound championship last year, recording back-to-back 26-3 marks. "He's lost a match here and there, but he comes back to place in the states," Brooks said.
He adds that this year, however, it's a different story. "He's very offensive; he picks everybody up. But he'll hold on to that lead, I think, more this year (than before)," Brooks said.
Green has the ability to pad his score. He knows how he expects to collect his points, but is prepared to alter his match plans if necessary.
Besides wrestling well on top, Green also uses his legs more to keep opponents from slipping away. He also is going for the kill quicker, recording nine pins, including one in 28 seconds.
"I'm just better on the move now," Green said. "It's (just) coming together. It's just being more aggressive, and being there."
While Green is blessed with speed and strength, Brooks said it sometimes gets him in trouble.
For example, in the St. Stephen's championship, Green held a 3-1 lead over Tigs entering the third period.
Green, on top, had his hands gripped tightly around Tigs' waist to prevent his escape. But the referee ruled twice that Green's hands were touching, which constitutes locking hands, an illegal move, and penalized him two points for it.
After Tigs later gained a point on an escape, Green appeared to come back with a takedown late in the match. But the referee ruled that Green was sliding out of bounds in doing it, and he lost, 4-3.
Green hasn't let the loss bother him. In fact, he is fortunate that this loss, like the others, occurred in Decmber rather than late in the season. "It bothered me at the time," he said. "It"s better when you lose earlier in the year. You know how to accept it."