Westerville South High School wrestling coach George Crooks says senior Isaac Roussos always has been a mild-mannered student-athlete -- until he takes the mat.

Then he becomes a fierce competitor.

Video •Watch an interview with Westerville South wrestler Isaac Roussos.

Roussos is 24-4 this season at 145 pounds and has a career record of 81-49. He qualified for district the past two seasons, finishing 0-2 both years, but still is looking for his first Division I state tournament berth.

He also has enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and will report to Parris Island, South Carolina, for basic training Aug. 28.

"He's a good kid," Crooks said. "He's pretty tough. If everybody worked like him and went at it like that, we'd be much better. ... If he gets down to the weight class he wants to get to he has a chance to make the state tournament. A lot of it depends on matchups when you get to district."

The Wildcats will compete in an 11-team sectional Feb. 25 at Marysville. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby.

Roussos expects to compete at 138 in the postseason. He finished 32-15 at 152 as a junior and 22-20 at 138 as a sophomore.

"I'm pretty happy with my season so far," he said. "I love the team, I love the camaraderie. The reason I'm moving down to 138 is ... I'm trying to make it to state this year."

South again has struggled with depth this season, including losing three key wrestlers to injuries, but Roussos has remained a constant contributor.

"We have such a small team, we don't plan on winning district," he said. "We just plan on getting kids to district."

South has competed without senior Ray Gordon (hand) and sophomores Bobby Henderson (leg) and Jacob Shalvey (collarbone).

"We do the best with what we have," Crooks said. "We have to move on from the injuries. It's something we didn't expect. We just have to deal with it."

Roussos said a highlight this season was finishing first at 145 in the New Albany Invitational on Dec. 17.

He opened the season by placing second at 152 in the Lee Spitzer Golden Invitational on Dec. 3 at Upper Arlington.

Roussos credits working with coaches Brian Church and Sergei Kitaev during the preseason as a key to his development.

Kitaev has more than 17 years of coaching experience and competed for 20 years internationally. He has trained wrestlers at all levels, including serving as Belarus' freestyle coach at the 2012 London Olympics.

Church is the founder of the Columbus Wrestling Club and has coached at the youth, high school and collegiate levels. He is a past AAU freestyle national champion.

Roussos also has played rugby for the Columbus Crusaders the past two years and said that sport is much different from wrestling.

"It's not as physically demanding as wrestling practices are," he said. "There isn't any cutting weight."

Boys basketball team
seeking league title

The boys basketball team will look to move closer to an OCC-Buckeye Division title when it plays host to Westerville North on Friday, Feb. 10.

The Wildcats, who opened the season by defeating North 71-49 on Dec. 2, were 13-5 overall and 7-0 in the league before playing Olentangy Orange on Feb. 7.

South defeated host Olentangy Liberty 64-48 on Feb. 3 as Anthony Mills scored 21 points, Kaleb Wesson had 18 and Cameron Caldwell added 10.

North was second in the league at 5-2 before playing Liberty on Feb. 7.

Girls basketball team
still in league race

The girls basketball team remained in OCC-Buckeye title contention entering the week, as it was 11-7 overall and 5-2 in the league before playing Orange on Feb. 7.

The Wildcats were second in the league behind Liberty, which was 6-2 before playing North on Feb. 7.

South defeated visiting Liberty 44-29 on Feb. 3, avenging a 35-31 loss to the Patriots on Dec. 15.

In the rematch, Cailin Duffy scored 15 points and Anyssa Jones and Peyton Guice each had 11.

The Wildcats are seeded 17th for the Division I district tournament and took a first-round bye. They will play 10th-seeded Liberty or 29th-seeded Dublin Scioto in the second round Feb. 21.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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