Area standouts made some serious noise at Saturday and Sunday’s Division I district wrestling tournament at Hilliard Darby.
And, thanks to the slew of solid showings, several are primed to make some more.
Of the six county teams that had at least one district qualifier, four will be represented at this weekend’s OHSAA state showcase. Olentangy Liberty punched four tickets, including a pair of district champions, Orange had a district champ of its own, and Olentangy Berlin and Delaware Hayes had grapplers nab top-four showings to keep their seasons alive as well.
Lucas Uliano and Jayce Fitzpatrick paced the Patriots. Uliano had little trouble advancing through the 152-pound bracket while Fitzpatrick won an individual title at 170.
Uliano started his march toward the championship final — a match he dominated en route to a 14-3 win over Westland’s Jakob Hurley — by pinning Grove City’s Josiah Bever in just 1:37.
He was even better in his championship quarterfinal, pinning Newark’s Trevor Carl in 1:31 before cruising to a lopsided 21-5 win over Orange’s Zack Miller in the semis.
The 4-0 performance bumped his record to 33-2 heading into the upcoming state tournament.
Fitzpatrick was equally as dominant on his way to the 170-pound championship match. He pinned his first opponent — Marion Harding’s Kobe Johnson — in 21 seconds, beat Watkins Memorial’s Jeff Cameron 18-3 in the quarters and pinned Hilliard Davidson’s Richard Lawrence in 1:47 to set up the final against Marysville’s Colton Powers — a match he won 6-5 to pick up first-place points.
Other top Patriot point producers included Jaxon Rosselli and Dylan Russo, who earned runner-up honors at 106 and 220, respectively.
Rosselli, just a freshman, won each of his first three matches before falling to Westland’s Tyler Jude 12-8 in the championship.
Russo, meanwhile, picked up a pair of pins and an 11-3 decision over Westerville Central’s Josiah Mair before falling to Groveport-Madison’s Jake Nelson by a 5-2 margin in the final.
Keegan Knapp turned out to be the headliner for Orange, winning a district title in the 160-pound division to keep his season alive.
The junior stared his run with an 11-4 win over Hilliard Bradley’s Ryan Brattina before pinning Berlin’s Caiden Hooks in 3:46 in the quarters.
Two wins later — an 8-5 decision over Hayes’ Devin Halliday and a 5-2 win over Dublin Coffman’s Dez Gartrell in the final — Knapp secured his spot atop the podium.
Hooks’ loss to Knapp ended any chance at a district title, but, despite coming early on, didn’t end his shot to be a state qualifier.
The junior, who lost both eyes to retinoblastoma in 2007, pinned Walnut Ridge’s Melvin Patterson in 3:56 in the first round and, after falling to Knapp, won three straight.
He pinned Central’s Tate Sterling and Newark’s Lakeland Moore, both in 1:47, before advancing into the third-place match after his opponent in the consolation semifinal was disqualified for poor sportsmanship earlier in the day.
He missed out on third, falling 10-1 to Marysville’s Jack Golla, but won’t miss out on Saturday and Sunday’s state tournament back at Darby.
Hayes’ Clay Ours will be there, too. The senior, who finished third at 195, pinned Liberty’s Josh Slingsby in 3:24 before falling to Coffman’s Seth Shumate, the eventual district champ, in the quarterfinals.
He then won four straight consolation matches, including a 12-3 win over Marysville’s Ben Bickerstaff in the third-place bout.
The Division I OHSAA State Tournament is set for Saturday and Sunday back at Hilliard Darby High School. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. both days.
Weight classes 106 through 145 will compete in the championship preliminaries, championship quarterfinals and the first and second consolation rounds in Saturday’s early session. The later session, set to get underway at 4:30 p.m., will feature the same rounds for weight classes 152 through 285.
Session three, Sunday at 10 a.m., will include championship semifinals, consolation quarterfinals, consolation semifinals and the third-, fifth- and seventh-place matches for all weight classes. The main event — the championship matches — will follow at 4:30 p.m.