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Having fallen short of reaching the top of the podium a year ago, Sandy Valley's Francesco Borsellino had one goal coming into his senior season -- to become his school's first-ever state champion..
Last Saturday evening at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University, Borsellino made the dream a reality as he won the Division III state title at 285, defeating previously unbeaten Derek Smith of Defiance Tinora by pin at 4:42.
"Fran has been on a mission since last year's state tournament -- to bring home a state championship for Sandy Valley," noted Head Coach Greg Donahue. "We have been working with Francesco on getting busy and staying busy. We have been concerned about his wind coming off his injury. He has really surprised me. He's been busy for every match he's wrestled.
"My assistant coach said it best when he stated that instead of worrying about Francesco keeping up with everybody else, everybody else needs to worry about keeping up with Francesco."
A serious knee injury suffered while playing football for the Cardinals put his wrestling season in jeopardy. Borsellino was kept out of action until the Inter-Valley Conference Championships on Feb. 18.
He showed no signs of rust as he won the league title, and claimed sectional and district championships.
In the last match of the 2017 State Wrestling Championships, Borsellino faced Smith, who came in with a perfect 58-0 record.
Neither wrestler was able to generate any offense in the opening period. Borsellino chose down to start the second, and quickly earned a point with an escape. Smith got a takedown with 19 seconds to go in the period for a 2-1 advantage.
Smith chose down to to start the third period, and was able to escape for a 3-1 lead. Smith took down Borsellino to stretch his lead to 5-1, but Borsellino was able to get a reversal and put Smith on his back for the pin.
Borsellino breezed into the finals. He opened with a pin at 3:58 against Brayden Phillips of Tuslaw. In the quarterfinals, Borsellino needed just 59 seconds to pin Seth Douglas of Troy Christian.
With a trip to the finals on the line, Borsellino recorded a 15-0 technical fall over Tanner Kunz of Zane Trace.
Borsellino ends his senior season with a 17-0 record.