A-K Valley high school athletes of the week: Freeport’s Isabella Russo, Riverview’s Mason Ochs

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 | 3:45 PM

Isabella Russo

Class: Sr.

School: Freeport

Sport: Volleyball

Report card: Russo had the match-clinching kill for the Yellowjackets, who rallied after dropping the first two sets in a 3-2 win over North Catholic in the WPIAL finals Saturday at Fox Chapel. She had 17 kills in the match. Russo also added 13 kills in a 3-2 win over Avonworth in the semifinals Thursday where, like they did in the final, the Yellowjackets came back from a 2-0 deficit.

What does it mean to you to get the match-clinching kill in the WPIAL final that capped off a comeback from a 2-0 deficit?

It definitely meant a lot to me. I was just really happy that we were able to come back. We never give up when we are down.

What is it about this team that it can find a way to come back from 2-0 deficits in the playoffs?

Honestly, whenever we’re down, it gives us even more motivation to keep pushing. We know we have to step up our game and keep going, because we all want to win.

What did the team do to celebrate?

We had a police escort on Route 28 and went around the town of Freeport and celebrated. The bus drove around town and there were people out there cheering us. It was awesome. Then we had a team dinner at River Forest.

Do you have any college plans?

I’m not sure where I’m going, but I want to go to a bigger school, so for volleyball I think I’ll look into playing intramurals or club. I want to study marketing.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

I always put my headphones in and listen to anything that gets me hyped up. I always pass with my friend Mackensey Jack in warmups.

Do you have a favorite pregame meal?

I always eat something light. It’s not always the same thing. Then after matches I’ll eat a bigger meal.

What’s your favorite school subject?

English. It fascinates me the most and I like to write.

Who are your best friends on the team?

I am close with most of the team, but I’ve been friends with the (seven) seniors on the team for as long as I can remember. I grew up with them and we’ve been playing together for a very long time.

What’s your favorite TV show?


What’s something interesting that people may not know about you?

I used to dance when I was younger up until I was in sixth grade. I did a whole bunch of different types of dance, so that was a big part of my childhood.

Mason Ochs

Class: Jr.

School: Riverview

Sport: Cross Country

Report Card: Ochs placed seventh at the PIAA championships in Hershey on Saturday, helping the Raiders place second overall in the Class AA boys meet. He finished 10 spots better in the state meet than he did last year. He also had a second-place finish at the WPIAL meet at Cal (Pa.) on Oct. 24, where Riverview had another runner-up finish.

How did it feel to finish in the top 10 at states?

I felt really good about it, because I believe only one other runner in Riverview history has done that. It was great to be able to be a medalist with a teammate too. Gideon Deasy finished 14th.

What was it like to cap off the year with a runner-up finish as a team, earn silver medals and a trophy at states?

It was very emotional for all of us. I know that it was something that the seniors Erik (Ketterer), Sully (Jacob Sullivan) and Ben (Swensen) had dreamed about for a long time. I’ve definitely dreamed of it with my team. It was an incredible experience.

How did the team celebrate?

On the way home, we stopped and got some sodas and some burgers and ate something not healthy.

What got you interested in cross country?

My neighbors were into cross country and I wanted something to do, so I signed up for it in seventh grade.

What is the most challenging part of being a cross country runner?

Probably the diet. I have a horrible diet and it’s very hard to resist eating burgers or fries, but I make it work.

Do you have a favorite pre-race meal?

The night before a meet, we usually get together as a team and have a pasta dinner. We have spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and some salad. It’s all healthy stuff to carbo load the night before a race.

Do you have any superstitions or pre-race routines?

Last year I wore a head band, but I retired that for this year. It’s still up there hanging with my 17th-place medal from last year. I haven’t really had any superstitions this year.

What’s your favorite school subject?

I like physics. It’s really fun.

Who are your best friends on the team?

We’re all really close. We call each other brothers and I look at them all as my best friends. I know that’s cliche to say, but that’s from the bottom of my heart.

What’s your favorite TV show?

Big Mouth on Netflix

What’s something interesting that people may not know about you?

Before I was a runner, I used to be a really bad wrestler. I would do cross country in the fall my seventh, eighth and ninth grade years and then wrestle in the winter. My ninth grade year, I sprained my ankle and I just decided to give up wrestling.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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