Russo wins 2nd straight state title


Olentangy Liberty junior Dylan Russo saved his best for last … again.

After settling for district runner-up honors for the second year in a row, the returning state champion maneuvered his way to his second straight Division I championship final over the weekend. He won his second straight, too, handling Oregon Clay’s Ty Cobb 5-3 to return to his familiar spot on top of the podium during the final day of the 85th annual OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament Sunday night at OSU’s Schottenstein Center.

He won it all at 220 pounds a year ago. This time, competing at 215, was no different.

Russo opened his title defense by pinning Gage Yackee, a sophomore from Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, in the third period of Friday’s first-round showdown. He took considerably less time forcing Trenton Edgewood’s Wyatt Walker to the mat in Saturday’s championship quarterfinal, needing less than a period, before punching his ticket to the final with a 5-2 decision over Massillon Perry’s Logan Shephard Saturday night.

With the stage set, Russo then edged Cobb Sunday night to take top honors for the second straight year.

The journey was anything but easy … Russo just made it look that way. All four of his opponents entered the showcase with a better record than Russo’s 30-6 mark. Shephard, who was ranked ahead of Russo for much of the season, was 45-3 before Russo took him down in the semis. Cobb, meanwhile, was 49-3. Both were seniors, both were district champs and both were returning state placers.

None of that mattered to Russo, though, who is now a two-time state champion. It was the seventh straight year the Patriots, who finished 10th as a team, have had an individual state champ. His back-to-back titles were preceded by Carson Kharchla’s two straight.

Russo provided the ultimate highlight, but he wasn’t the area’s only state placer, either. Liberty’s Jaxson Rosselli, just a sophomore, finished third at 113. After falling to eventual state champ Marcus Blaze in the championship semifinals, Rosselli cruised past St. Edward’s Wyatt Richter 11-3 before knocking off Moeller’s Jared Johnston in the third-place match.

Olentangy Orange’s Keegan Knapp also reached the podium, capping his high school career with a fifth-place finish at 150. He won each of his first two matches before falling into the consolation bracket after Perrysburg’s Wynton Denkins edged him with a 5-1 sudden victory in the championship semifinals.

Knapp went on to double up Perry’s Sam Thomson 8-4 in the fifth-place match.

Olentangy Liberty’s Dylan Russo, back, takes on St. John’s Jesuit’s Gage Yackee during the OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament over the weekend at OSU. Liberty’s Dylan Russo, back, takes on St. John’s Jesuit’s Gage Yackee during the OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament over the weekend at OSU. Ben Stroup | The Gazette
Rosselli finishes 3rd, Knapp closes 5th at state showcase

By Ben Stroup

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