Olentangy Liberty’s Dylan Russo won a state championship, Delaware Hayes’ Clay Ours powered his way to runner-up honors and Olentangy Berlin’s Caiden Hooks picked up the first state-tournament win in program history to highlight Saturday and Sunday’s Division I OHSAA State Wrestling Championship at Hilliard Darby High School.
After qualifying for last year’s state showcase as a freshman — a tournament which was later cancelled before it began due to COVID-19 concerns — everyone in area wrestling circles knew Russo’s future was bright. Just how bright was the question.
Well, he answered that question and more over the weekend, showing the future isn’t only bright … it’s right now. After qualifying for the second consecutive year, the sophomore made the most of the opportunity, winning four straight matches on the way to the top of the podium.
After knocking off Hoover’s Ryan Prusinowski 7-2 in Saturday’s opener, the 220-pound Russo dropped one of the favorites in his bracket — previously undefeated Ty Cobb of Oregon Clay — 5-1 in the championship quarterfinals to reach day two just two wins away from a state title.
As the competition ramped up, so did Russo. A takedown in overtime led him to a 5-3 semifinal win over Massillon Perry’s Logan Shephard before he edged Fairfield’s Brandon Smith 3-2 Sunday night to take home the hardware.
Ours had a similar run. After finishing second at the sectional tournament and third at the district, the senior came a win away from capping his high school career with a state championship.
Ours was impressive on his way to the 195-pound championship match, handling Centerville’s Gunnar Pool 8-2 in the opener, Perrysburg’s Ryan Musgrove 10-3 in the quarters and Wadsworth’s Jon List 8-3 in the semis before Dublin Coffman’s Seth Shumate pinned him in 1:42 in the final.
And then there was Hooks. The junior, who lost both eyes to retinoblastoma in 2007, has been turning negatives into positives his entire life.
The state tournament was no exception.
After falling to St. Edward’s Padraic Gallagher, the eventual champion at 160, Hooks found himself in a bit of trouble in the ensuing consolation match against Butler’s Matt Motter. Down 15-7 in the late stages of the second period, Hooks caught Motter for a pin at the 3:44 mark to stay alive.
Hooks fell to Little Miami’s Alex Hobbs 18-3 in the next round, falling short of a spot on the podium, but certainly put himself and the Berlin wrestling program on the map in the process.
While Russo, Ours and Hooks grabbed the headlines, a handful of other Delaware County wrestlers made some noise over the course of the two-day event as well.
Liberty’s Jaxson Rosselli, just a freshman, finished fourth at 106 thanks in part to thrilling consolation wins over Oregon Clay’s Micah Medina (3-1 in OT) and Solon’s Kevin Grunzweig (1-0).
His teammate, Lucas Uliano, finished his prep career as a four-time state placer, closing fifth at 152 with a win over Westland’s Jakob Hurley in the fifth-place match; and Olentangy Orange’s Keegan Knapp finished seventh at 160 with a 6-3 win over Brecksville’s Nick Campbell in the seventh-place match.
Liberty senior Jayce Fitzpatrick (170) also competed, finishing 0-2 to cap what was a solid senior season that saw him finish 26-5 overall.