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PREPS: Osa aims for a repeat championship


PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - David Douglas senior Osa Odighizuwa works to turn Centennial's Tauati Fanene during the district title match two weeks ago. David Douglas senior Osa Odighizuwa spends more time grabbing his bag and searching out a seat on the bus than he does wrestling on the mat once the Scots arrive for a tournament.

During last month’s Tournament of Champions, against the elite teams from across the state, Odighizuwa was in the circle for barely six minutes while dispatching four opponents on his way to the heavyweight title. He is closing in on a second straight perfect season, coming into this weekend’s state championships at Memorial Coliseum with a 33-0 record — and one-third of those bouts have ended within a minute.

“I prefer to get my offense going, and if I can get it done quickly that’s what I’ll do,” he says. “I feel like my technique is crisp right now, and I’m motivated to make my last season my best season.”

The 285-pounder's biggest challenge this season came in a 3-1 decision over Dallas Goodpaster out of Evergreen (Wash.) High, at the Coast Classic before Christmas — the last time anyone took him the distance.

Coaches always point to Odighizuwa, who has signed to play defensive line in football at UCLA, as the hardest working athlete in the training room, whether it comes to football or wrestling. To amp up that challenge, his regular partner on practice days is Scots assistant coach Quinn Collett — a former middleweight state champ at Canby who went on to wrestle at Portland State.

“My job is to keep egging him on to stay on the attack, to push on him and challenge him,” Collett said.

While he competes at the top of the weight ladder, his style resembles the quicker action that you typically see in the middleweights.

“When you think of heavyweights, you think of two guys pushing each other around — that’s not Osa,” Collett said. “He’s always learning and going forward. He has great explosiveness and would do well in any sport with his athletic ability.”

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Osa Odighizuwa displays his award from the 2015 freestyle wrestling national tournament.

In the district finals, Odighizuwa locked wrists with Centennial’s Tauati Fanene. The two stared each other down in the center circle for nearly a minute. A puff of smoke and Fanene found himself staring at an empty mat. His opponent had disappeared into thin air.

In reality, Odighizuwa had flashed behind his foe. Panicked Fanene thought to flee the mat and earn a restart, but before the message reached his feet, Odighizuwa had pounced. He grabbed Fanene’s ankles and dragged him back to the center for a takedown.

The crowd let out a collective ‘Ah’ as if they were watching a magic show.

Odighizuwa went on to score a pin with six seconds left in the first period. He spent barely three minutes on the mat during the district tournament.

“His wrestling has improved a bunch,” Scots coach Ron Holyoak says. “He doesn’t rely on one specific move, he’s able to take whatever his opponent is giving him. He is going into the end of the year with a lot of confidence.”

He enters state as a pronounced favorite, with Aloha’s Cortez Rodelo being his biggest challenger on the other side of the bracket. But Odighizuwa, the 2015 national freestyle champ, isn’t overlooking anyone.

“You never know when you’re going to face someone who can beat you, so you always need to work hard,” he says.