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LEXINGTON – Mitch Rusch didn’t finish his high school career the way he wanted, atop the KHSAA state wrestling championships podium.
But the North Oldham senior came about as close as he could.
Rusch finished third in the 160-pound class at the state tournament at Alltech Arena this weekend. His only loss was a 4-2 overtime defeat at the hands of Dominic Lampe, the eventual 160-pound champion.
Rusch beat Central Hardin’s Cole Overman 9-2 in the third place match to finish his senior season 53-5.
“It’s really great for me,” Rusch said. “It’s been a tough year.
“I pushed myself and I had a lot of people there to inspire me and help me get better than what I could’ve been… It just feels fantastic.”
Rusch was the only member of the Mustangs’ regular starting lineup who was above the sophomore level. His leadership was key for a North team that finished 25th in the meet with a team score of 43.5, coach Tony Zeppa said.
“It was an excellent weekend for Mitch,” Zeppa said. “He went 5-1 and the match he lost was to the No. 1 kid in the state and he lost in overtime. Great match that should’ve been finals.”
Rusch earned one of the top seeds in the 160-pound class after winning the region championship earlier this month in Frankfort.
Rusch won his first match Friday by pinning Ryle’s Will Allen 33 seconds into the match. He followed that up with a pin of Hopkinsville’s Nate Williams to advance to the state quarterfinals.
Rusch pinned Lafayette’s Sam Quigney in just 16 seconds, setting up a semifinal showdown with Lampe.
“Right when I first saw the brackets I was looking at who was on my side and I saw that Dominic Lampe was on it,” Rusch said. “That was one match I had been looking forward to all year.”
The two 160-pounders were neck-and-neck the whole way, finishing in a 2-2 tie after three periods. That set up an overtime period to clinch a berth in Saturday night’s finals.
But Lampe was able to score two points and beat Rusch 4-2, ending his state title hopes.
“It was just a great match,” Rusch said. “I’m proud I wrestled and I’m not angry or disappointed I lost.
“I just went out there and did the best I could. I wanted to leave the mat with no regrets.”
Rusch then went to the consolation bracket, setting his sights on a third place finish.
He won by decision over Franklin County’s Frederick Agyeman, setting up a third place match against Overman.
Rusch dominated that match, 9-2, to go out a winner.
“I wrestled him back in December and it went back and forth,” Rusch said. “This time I just ramped up, got a lot more energy, went out there and hit my moves smoother and everything kept going. I got the guy to wrestle the way I want to.”
North’s other podium representative was sophomore John Reitnauer, who finished eighth in the 152-pound class.
Reitnauer fell in the quarterfinals to Bourbon County’s Alex Wright, then split two consolation matches before losing to Fairdale’s Trey Norton in the seventh place match.
“That’s fantastic,” Zeppa said of Reitnauer’s tournament. “John has had a great year… We’re expecting big things in the next couple of years.”