TROY — The first time Kira Cole wrestled, jitters got to her.
“I was very nervous,” she said.
That feeling soon gave way to a different emotion entirely.
“Our first match, we did not win,” said Jared Cole, her father and coach of the Troy youth wrestling team.
“It makes me sort of mad,” Kira said. “When I do that (lose), it makes me more competitive than when I’m just winning.”
Kira Cole, a fourth grader at Cookson Elementary in Troy, has done plenty of winning since she began wrestling at the age of 6. She competes in the Troy youth program — a member of the Miami Valley Kids Wrestling Association and Ohio Athletic Committee — as well the National United Wrestling Association for Youth (NUWAY). And in March in Marion, Ohio, she won the Ohio WAY state championship in the girls 12U 68-pound division, her second consecutive state title.
She wasn’t the only one who was scared for that first match, though.
“I was on board from the start. Her mother? Not so much,” Jared said, drawing a laugh from Kira’s mother, Kristina Cole. “It took a little convincing, but we’re all on the same page now.”
“I’m ashamed that it took me any convincing now,” Kristina said.
Kira had tried other sports, as well, but wrestling was simply the one that fit best.
“I do do other sports, too, like soccer and softball,” she said. “I like wrestling because it’s more competitive than the other sports. It makes you work harder and helps me build up my self-confidence.”
“The sport kind of found us, and her specifically,” Jared said. “We played soccer year-round, and softball and baseball, but wrestling is the one sport that you can just see brings out the best in her, that meshes with her the best.
“I had a brief, uneventful wrestling career when I was younger, and I’ve coached her from her start. I’ve been an assistant coach with the Troy youth program from the beginning, but this year I took over as the head coach.”
In her first year of wrestling, she finished third at the Ohio WAY state tournament in the girls division. That only fired her up more, though — in 2016, wrestling for the Shore Sports Club, she won the state title in the girls 8U division’s 58-pound weight class, going 4-0 in her pool with three pins. And this year, she won the championship in the girls 12U division’s 68-pound weight class, defeating the Chillicothe Little Cavs’ Candy Keller by a 9-0 major decision in the title match.
“Once I won the first state title, it was a little easier,” Kira said. “But defending state titles is harder to do, because everyone is expecting more from you.”
Most of Kira’s time, though, isn’t spent wrestling other girls.
“The first match we ever wrestled, it was against a boy,” Jared said. “In youth season, she didn’t wrestle a girl all season. She went 18-3 against all boys, won that league championship, also. The majority of our time is wrestling in a co-ed environment, and it’s mostly boys.”
She actually qualified for the OAC boys state tournament this season, but it conflicted with a national event in Oklahoma, and she wasn’t able to compete.
Cole doesn’t want to stop wrestling anytime soon, though.
“I’m hopeful that I can get good enough that I can go for a college scholarship,” she said.
There’s no reason to believe, at this point, that she won’t accomplish that goal, either. She’s already come a long way in a brief time and believes in herself — and even won over the first critic she had completely.
“Obviously, she inspires me all the time,” Kristina said. “But the few people that have beaten her, she wants to wrestle them again. Those are the names that she remembers, and those are the people that she’s trying to track down to go after again.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.