COLUMBUS — It wasn’t the way Dakota Riley envisioned the end of his high school wrestling career.
The Mount Vernon senior stood on the podium for the second straight year following the finals of the OHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. However, the award he received was for fifth place.
That’s about four places below where he’d hoped to land.
“There’s nothing I can do about getting on top now,” said Riley after his final match. “It’s all behind me now.”
Riley was victorious in his final match — the 113-pound fifth-place match on Saturday’s final day — when he defeated Archbishop Moeller’s Conner Ziegler, 3-1, in overtime.
Riley entered the final day with a shot to finish as high as third, which would match last year’s performance. However, he lost his consolation semifinal match to Boardman’s Nick Mancini, 6-3. The match propelled Mancini to the third-place match, and knocked Riley down to fifth.
In the fifth-place match, Ziegler scored the first point on an escape in the second period. Riley matched that with an escape in the third. Despite clamping Ziegler in a front facelock, Riley could not turn him over and could not score in regulation.
In overtime, Riley finally managed to get Ziegler’s legs and take him down before he went out of bounds, scoring the winning points.
“I kept pushing him to the edge,” said Riley. “I thought I would get a stalling call, but I didn’t, so I did what I had to do.”
“I don’t know why they didn’t call him for stalling,” said Brown. “He was always playing the edge, backing up. ... Dakota just refused to lose, bottom line.”
In the first match, Riley fell behind to Mancini in the first period with a takedown. Riley had the advantage in the second but could not turn Mancini. After an escape, the Boardman senior led, 3-0.
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