By David Fong
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The high school wrestling season didn’t end the way Olivia Shore had hoped.
Now she’s going to make the rest of the country pay.
“For sure, it definitely put a fire under me,” said Shore, a freshman on the Miami East wrestling team. “It wasn’t the way I wanted to end the season, so I wanted to come out and prove something.”
Last month, Shore had hoped to become just the second girl in Ohio history to earn a trip to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament. After winning a Division III sectional championship and carrying a No. 1 seed into districts, she appeared to be well on her way to doing just that.
That’s when the wheels fell off, however, as Shore made it to the semifinals at 106 pounds — one match away from a state berth — only to lose her next three matches in a row and be forced to settle for sixth place. The top four in each weight class at districts qualify for the state meet.
“I didn’t wrestle well,” Shore said. “I didn’t wrestle my match. I had a shoulder injury, but that’s no excuse. I should have wrestled better.”
Shore didn’t have much time to wallow in self-pity, however. After she watched her brother Graham, a senior at Miami East, capture a state championship at 120 pounds, she was ready to get back on the mat herself. Shore, who wrestled almost exclusively against boys during her high school season — posting an impressive 36-10 record along the way — was back competing exclusively against girls last weekend.
Shore captured her sixth national title at the U.S. Marine Corps Girls Cadet Folkstyle Nationals in Oklahoma City, taking first place at 106 pounds. Last summer, she also captured a cadet freestyle national title, allowing her to compete on the cadet world team in Greece.
“Wrestling against the boys definitely helped me,” Shore said of her high school season. “It’s a different mindset wrestling against boys and wrestling against girls. Boys are super strong, so I have to rely more on my technique when I wrestle them. Girls are strong, too, but I am as strong as them. I can use my technique and my strength when I wrestle against girls. I feel like I can be more aggressive when I wrestle against girls. I don’t have to worry about their strength as much.”
Shore had to win five matches to claim her sixth title. In the opening match, she pinned Jenavi Alejandro in 1:59. In her second match, she defeated Catherine Bertrand, 5-4. That led to her quarterfinal match against Victoria Nunez, which she won 9-2. In the semifinals, she needed just 48 seconds to pin Cayden Condit.
That set up a finals match against Texas wrestler Samara Chavez, the 2017 national champion at 106 pounds. Shore had placed third at 100 pounds in last year’s tournament. Shore — wrestling up one weight class — went into the bout ranked third in the nation at 100 pounds, while Chavez came in ranked No. 7 at 106 pounds.
Shore held a 6-5 lead in the third period, then scored a takedown for the 8-5 final margin of victory.
“It felt great,” Shore said of winning another national title and finding some redemption after the frustrating end to her high school season.
Shore will continue to wrestle in girls tournaments this spring and summer. She said her long-term goal remains the same as it has since she was a little girl — to compete for the United States in the Summer Olympics on the women’s wrestling team. She’ll be 18 by the time the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo roll around — they would take place the summer before her senior year at Miami East. If she doesn’t qualify for the 2020 Olympics, she’d be looking toward the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“That’s something I dream about almost every day,” She said. “I’ve woke up every day since I was a little girl willing to do whatever it takes to make the Olympics. If I could make it in 2020, that would be awesome. If not, my goal would be to make it in 2024. I’ve got some time.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong