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By Bill Bray

COLUMBUS – Over the weekend Fremont Ross was represented by six wrestlers as they took the Purple and White colors into battle. Seniors Bakari Scott, Gage Ross and Xsaria Puente, Sophomore Jayce Frymire and freshmen Aidan Autullo and Jaiden Long were in the spotlight at the Annual OHSAA State Wrestling tournament.

Xsaria Puente

            Most if not all the Fremont competitors have the sport of wrestling in their backgrounds. They come from generations of Fremont Ross an St Joseph Central Catholic wrestlers. Ross’ dad, Jamie advanced to state in 1995 and his grandfather, Eric Wolfe was a wrestler for Fremont Ross. Frymire has two uncles, Trey and Tyler Grine who were standouts at Ross. Trey Grine was a two-time state placer including a second place finish in 2014. Autullo comes from wrestlers as well as his dad, Aaron Autullo was a district qualifier for St Joe. Puente, who had Fremont’s top finish placing sixth, comes from a long line of wrestlers. Her cousin Rondal Blackburn was a 2000 state champ while wrestling for Clyde. Her brotherJoaquin Puente and cousin Rico Puente also wrestled for the Little Giants. Puente appeared at state for the second year in a row and will be pursuing a college career in the sport. Long who is an alternate for the event is the daughter of Chad Long, a two-time runner up at state matches for the Clyde Fliers.

            Placing for the Little Giants was Scott, finishing eighth, wrestling in the 132 lbs weight class. From a very young age Bakari was introduced to the sport as he has a grandfather and uncles who were standout wrestlers for St Joseph Central Catholic High School.  They too competed at state wrestling tournaments in the 1970s.

            “I was introduced to the sport when I attended the 1968 SBC matches,” Scott’s grandfather Albert Zamora said. Zamora’s brothers and a nephew all wrestled at the state tournament. “We would all go to Columbus back in the 1970s to watch, with excitement, as my brothers competed. Bakari is quite possibly the last one of our family that will wrestle in Columbus.”

            Scott has older siblings as one swam for Fremont Ross and the other started out as a basketball player before switching to wrestling.

            It was Bakari who started into the sport at a very early age. His grandfather took the young grandson all over the state as he started down the wrestling road. “The tournaments were part of the Biddy wrestling program,” Zamora explained. “There was a big tournament in Youngstown that we would attend as well as another tournament that took place at Wright State.”  In his first year Bakari wrestled at 43 lbs. “Biddy tournaments were always a mad house, as they still are today,” Zamora said. The young Scott was not a fan at first. He didn’t begin liking the sport until the first time he won a match by pin. “After that experience, Bakari was like a shark to blood. His grandmother would put safety pins on his jacket every time he won by pin.”

            As the tournaments went on, Scott was winning more and more. He won a state title at the Big Eagle tournament back at Wright State. “He was so wiry and had good speed on the mat,” Zamora said. “He had those things going for him.”

            As the young man continued to grow, his wins weren’t quite as often, and it affected him. “He began doubting his ability and had trouble with self-confidence,” Zamora said. “He gave up on the sport after fifth grade.”  Bakari tried basketball, flag football, soccer, and baseball between his sixth and eighth grade school years. “With his speed, he was decent at the other sports and learned quickly, Zamora said. “But his size, especially for football and basketball usually kept him on the sidelines. He made a pretty good shortstop in baseball, but not starting into the sport sooner, he had a hard time getting hits, not being used to the faster pitching.”

            So as Bakari’s freshman year began, he was back on the mats. “We got in the weight room three days a week,” Zamora said, “I even had a mat in my house and Bakari and his friends would wrestle,” It was during this time that his mother along with his grandparents stressed the importance of schoolwork. “We always told him not to take the easy road at school. We told him to take the tougher courses.” With that said, Bakari became an excellent student taking courses like the Algebras, Calculus and Trigonometry and making honor rolls.

            “We wanted him to check out the academies as his grades were such that he qualified,” Zamora continued. The eight-year commitment seemed to have scared him away, Zamora thought. “So, we looked at, and applied to schools in their ROTC programs.”

After applying to Ohio University, Ohio State, Toledo, and Bowling Green, Bakari chose Bowling Green to further his education. He will enter the Air Force ROTC there and if he applies himself the first year, he then will earn a full scholarship and finish as an Air Force officer as he majors in Management.

            With his wrestling days now behind him, Scott will take all he has learned at Fremont Ross and move on to a new adventure. No, it won’t include a mat, but chances are that Scott will score his new victories while attending Bowling Green State University.

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