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Campbell becomes 33rd four-time OHSAA wrestling champion


COLUMBUS — Dillon Campbell left the arena floor walking happily toward the tunnel entrance leading into the area underneath the stands. He calmly put on a collared shirt over his singlet and stopped to pose for a quick picture for someone while having no struggles to hold a smile.

He didn’t seem to be the least bit out of breath following his match. After all, he had not been challenged during it. And he had history to celebrate.

Campbell entered himself into the state record books Sunday at the OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament. He is the 33rd boys wrestler in state history to go 4-for-4 in winning an individual title.

“It’s something special,” Campbell said. “Since I was a little kid, I didn’t really think it would be possible. When my dad asked me probably in my third year of wrestling, we were looking at state champions and he asked me if I’m ever gonna be a state champ or even a four-timer and I thought there was no way I was gonna be a four-timer.”

Not that he made anything look difficult, Campbell had to face the toughest path of resistance available at 132 pounds in Division III to earn his historic this year.

After he picked up his first two wins by technical fall to reach the semifinals, all four district champions remained in that round. All of the other three remaining wrestlers also had previously placed at least twice at state as well.

First up was a match against Cowin Becker of Northmor. He sported a 51-1 record this year. Campbell dispatched him with three takedowns and two near falls to win 11-0.

In the finals on Sunday, Casper Caizzo of Norwalk St. Paul, a state title winner in 2022, with his 54-1 record this year was the only wrestler left standing in front of Campbell. And 1:52 into the match, he was off his feet with his shoulders pinned to the mat.

“Once I got that turn that was it,” Campbell said. “Always being up in the period by five or more is my goal for every match, but once I felt him come up, I had that bar in and then I just slipped the half and stuck it.”

Campbell didn’t allow a point to be scored against him this year, overpowering his opponents 44-0. In all 16 of his wins at the state tournament over four years, he earned bonus points for his team in all of them.

As a freshman he won at 113 pounds and moved up one weight class each year to 120 and 126. The path he ventured to his titles is one that he said he enjoys watching others emulate. An example of that came just prior to his title win when sophomore teammate Nathan Attisano won his first state title competing at 126.

Several other teammates, current and old, from the Legacy Christian wrestling group were on hand to help train and support Campbell and others. It’s something he plans to repay in the future.

“We are a huge family,” Campbell said. “We’re close to each other. Gavin [Brown] being at Ohio State and close by, he is just one of many that helps us push ourselves, working on technique that we need to do, and it’s all huge for us. We’re that close, it’s a bond.”

Head coach Mike Sizemore only was with Campbell for his last two years. After he achieved his feat, Sizemore recalled a story from one of the first tournaments they spent together at Iron Maiden last year.

“We sat down up against a wall and he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, what are you thinking about?’ and I said, ‘I’m thinking about what you can do for me.’ ” Sizemore said. “And I wanted him to be a leader by example. I told him I needed him to outwork everybody in the room. Not one day, but every day. I said if you do that, no matter who you are grabbing those guys will respond to that and next thing you know we may have other guys going at that level. That’s what we want and he’s done that.”

Sizemore said that seeing Campbell’s persistence to always improve is his best trait. Calling him a “consummate professional,” he said he has watched Campbell master a move in training only to see him continue to work on the same technique to find another level.

“He has naturally athletic ability,” Sizemore said. “Everybody talks about how he’s such as a great athlete. Campbell is one of those guys that can show it when he plays soccer, or he can when he plays basketball.”

Campbell has shown it off his athleticism to more than opponents from Ohio. While competing and performing well in many national tournaments, he also has gotten plenty of advice from his father who he said isn’t afraid to give him a hard truth when he needs to hear it.

“My dad takes me everywhere around the country finding me the best partners I can, having me stay with Collin Palmer for 14 days straight, just training and getting the best kids in front of me,” Campbell said. “I may get my butt kicked, but he is there supporting me no matter what. He’s been a huge part of everything.”

That national schedule is what Campbell credits as giving him the best preparation for state. While not underestimating any opponent in front of him, he believes there have been a few tougher opponents he has squared off against elsewhere than anyone he grappled with in his four state title paths. As far as the competition in Ohio goes, there just isn’t anyone who was ready to face him.

Campbell has committed to Virginia Tech to continue his wrestling career. Sizemore said his mindset will get him off to a good start at the next level even if he were to get knocked down at first because of his ability to adapt quickly.

While wrestlers at the NCAA level may get to know him better soon, those in Ohio have seen how his work ethic entered him into the record books forever.

“You know, when you put the work in, you have pushed yourself to exhaustion every day, you’re gonna find that results will come and that’s what happened,” Campbell said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.