By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
HILLIARD — Miami East’s Olivia Shore has wrestled in tournaments all over the world.
Sunday’s, though, was an altogether new experience for her entirely. And it was one she not only helped bring about, but she helped give to other girls around the state of Ohio who wanted to wrestle but never could before.
“Definitely the top,” the Viking junior said. “I worked hard to be a part of this tournament, to help make it happen, and now that it’s happened, it’s definitely special to me. Definitely top three.”
Shore won an individual championship and led the Miami East girls wrestling team to the team title at the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association (OHSWCA) girls state wrestling tournament Saturday and Sunday at Hilliard-Davidson High School, the first girls-only state tournament in Ohio wrestling history.
And Shore — who, as a sophomore last year, became only the second girl in Ohio wrestling history to qualify for the OHSAA boys state tournament, and the first ever to win a first-round match — has played a big role in bringing attention to and driving interest in the sport of girls wrestling in the state. Over the course of the two-day tournament, she saw first-hand the fruits of that labor as roughly 240 girls representing 99 schools across Ohio came together to compete in the first-of-its-kind historic tournament.
“The emotions haven’t hit me yet. I feel like I was a big part of this movement, and I’m just thankful. I’m so glad I was a part of this. There’s no words to describe it really,” Shore said.
• Shore Wins
Despite winning national championships as a member of the U.S. cadet freestyle team — and even competing at the world championships in Greece — Olivia Shore had always wanted to win a state title in her home state of Ohio.
“It’s been my goal my whole life, and it finally came true,” she said.
After a first-round bye, Shore (111) pinned her way through the tournament, scoring three straight first-period pins to reach the finals.
In the championship match, she took on Parma’s Liz Matis, who she was already familiar with. Matis took her all the way to the third period — although Shore held a commanding 12-point lead. Shore turned Matis to her back and earned enough near-fall points for a tech. fall — but she kept the pressure on and stuck a pin in 4:36 to earn one more bonus point toward the team standings.
“I’ve wrestled her in the finals of practically every tournament this year, and she’s just gotten tougher every time,” Shore said. “I knew that I had to go out and be on my ‘A’-game. I wasn’t expecting the pin, but I was expecting to go out and put a lot of points on the board, just get the win for myself and my team. She left a gap open, and I took the opportunity.”
And though she’s competed for Miami East’s boys team the past two years, she hasn’t had the chance to lead a team of fellow girls until now.
“It’s awesome. We’ve all been working so hard all year,” Shore said. “The group of girls we have, we’re all so different, but we’re all the same at the same time. And my dad work’s real hard coaching us, too. It all just came together.”
“Wow, man. It never gets old,” Miami East coach — and Olivia’s father — George Shore said of her victory. “We’ve been in Athens, Greece; Croatia, world championships, world team trials … but there’s something special about today. The way that, I feel like, she’s led this movement. I’m kind of speechless. It just feels great to see your girl succeed.”
• Vikings Win
By the end of Sunday, the finals had turned into a Viking victory lap.
The Vikings won with 149.5 points to Olentangy Orange’s 122.5 points. Miami East entered the finals with an insurmountable 23-point lead and tacked on a few more in the placement matches to seal the team win.
Even with that big lead heading into the finals, though, coach George Shore didn’t want to know anything about the standings until it was set in stone at the end.
“I told the coaches, ‘don’t tell me. I’m keeping my head down until it’s over,’” he said with a laugh. “We wrestled really well the last few rounds. We’ve taken our lumps, but we’ve battled back. We had a great weekend.”
Marysville was third with 99.5 points, Minerva was fourth with 87, Lutheran West was fifth with 61 and Sidney — which only brought four wrestlers — was sixth with 54 points. Of the 99 schools represented in the tournament, 83 scored in the team standings.
Erin Hamby (170) placed third, going 3-1 with three pins. Korrah Patton (143) placed fifth, going 4-2 with one pin; Camryn Miller (160) also placed fifth, going 4-2 with two pins; Belle Lewis (101) placed sixth, going 3-3 with two pins and a tech. fall.; and Sydney Preston (235) also placed sixth, going 1-3 with one pin.
Lily Bruggeman (106) went 3-2 with two pins; Ella Demmitt (121) went 2-2 with two pins; Natalie Bair (126) went 2-2 with one pin; Sarah Root (116), Josie DeSautels (131) and Shelby Preston (189) each went 1-2 with a pin; Alivia Wade (150) went 1-2; and Emily Adkins (121), Morgan Nosker (137) and Kelly Buck (189) each went 0-2.
“To take rookie girls that have wrestled three months, literally 0-0 lifetime records for everyone but Olivia, and to come out here three months later and perform the way they have, I’m just a blessed coach, man. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” George Shore said. “Our school district, our community at Miami East, we’re supposed to be just this little place in the corn fields, but you can’t believe the support we’ve gotten from top to bottom. I got every wrestling coach from our school — varsity, junior high, all of them — here this weekend. Tons of fans. The Miami East community has just been unbelievable for us.”
• Piqua’s Herndon
Miami East wasn’t the only Miami County school represented on the weekend.
Piqua’s Beth Herndon (137) went 3-2 on the weekend with a pair of pins. After a quarterfinal loss to Olentangy Orange’s Taryn Martin — another national team member and the eventual champion in their weight class — she battled back with a 12-9 decision over Twin Valley South’s Hannah Colosky in the fourth consolation round.
“Last year, all I wrestled with was boys, and got the crap beat out of me,” the sophomore said. “I came to girls to prove myself: to my coaches, to myself, to my parents, to my brother. I’m proud of how I did.”
She was defeated by Marysville’s Shelby Downey in the fifth consolation round, though, falling by a 10-4 decision and coming up one victory short of placing in the top six.
“I’ve had a ton of support,” Herndon said. “My teammates have been texting me asking how I’m doing, all my coaches at Piqua, all the Badin coaches and Miami East coaches. It’s all one big family. Now I’m going to work harder for next year and work towards first place.”
• Moving Forward
In the end, sure, it was a weekend of firsts.
The impact the tournament had on girls wrestling in Ohio was undeniable. It was visible on the face of every competitor who hadn’t had the opportunity to wrestle on a stage like that before. The crowd was huge, supportive … and loud. And it even brought back other athletes that paved the way for the tournament to take place, like Paige Nemec. The first ever girl to qualify for the OHSAA state boys tournament for Mantua Crestwood in the 2009-10 season, Nemec led the traditional parade of champions before the final round.
But what happens next?
“Just imagine what’s going to happen next year, when everybody that wants to be a part of this gets to be a part of this. It’s just going to explode,” an emotional George Shore said. “It’s just a real joy. I’m just blessed, man. I don’t know what else to say.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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