By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — Mark Rose leaned back against a wall in the bowels of the Schottenstein Center, arms folded across his barrel chest and beaming at his history-making wrestler.
“You know what it means when you win a match at state, don’t you?” the Miami East wrestling coach asked of Olivia Shore, who had won her first match at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state wrestling tournament in electrifying fashion. “It means you belong.”
Thursday afternoon, Shore showed the boys she belonged.
She showed the wrestling community she belonged.
She showed the entire state she belonged.
Miami East’s 106-pound sophomore — just the second girl in Ohio history to qualify for the state meet — became the first girl in state history to win her opening match in Columbus, sending a bolt through the arena as she knocked off Mantua Crestwood’s Brett Szuhay with a 10-8 win in sudden victory overtime.
Friday morning, she’ll become the first female wrestler in state history to compete in the quarterfinals when she takes on Milan Edison’s Alec Homan. Shore will need just one win Friday to become the first girl ever to place in the state meet.
“I’ve been thinking about this since I was 6 years old,” Shore said. “I was so ready. It hasn’t all really hit me yet. I’m just worried about my next match right now. I’m just trying to stay focused.”
Early on in her match against Szuhay, it wasn’t looking good for Shore, as she fell behind 7-1 early. A five-point head-and-arm maneuver in the second period nearly got her the pin and brought her back to within a point, 7-6. After giving up an escape, she got a takedown to tie the match at 8-8 late in the third period. The match went into overtime, where Shore was able to nail a takedown for the historic win.
“I could tell he was tired,” Shore said of her opponent. “I knew he was going to go for a bad double, so I just waited for him to take his shot, then I pulled him in and went for it.”
Rose was impressed with the way Shore handled herself, particularly on such a big stage with so many people watching.
“She kept her composure when she got down early,” he said. “She didn’t let that bother her.”
Of course, wrestling on big stages with high stakes is nothing new for Shore, who has won multiple national titles and competed internationally against other female wrestlers.
“I was prepared; I’ve wrestled on a lot of big stages before,” Shore said. “When I went out and looked around, it didn’t feel like it was bigger than some of the other places I’ve wrestled. I wasn’t nervous.”
At the same time Shore was making history, her brother Max, a freshman who wrestles at 113 for the Vikings, was making short work of his opponent.
The district champ defeated Liberty Center’s Cameron Henneman by technical fall, 18-2, in a match that almost went too fast.
After Max dominated his opponent, his sister Olivia was still in a dogfight on a different mat. The ushers at the Schottenstein Center typically don’t let wrestlers loiter and watch other matches, so they were trying to usher both Rose and Max into a waiting area. They were able to drag their feet just enough, however, to catch the end of Olivia’s match.
“I was walking as slow as I could,” Max said. “I was able to see what happened out of the corner of my eye. It was great seeing her win. It feels amazing being a part of this, to be the first brother and sister ever to compete together at state. Now we just want to both come back (Friday) and wrestle as well as we can.”
Rose said it’s quite a feeling being able to coach the siblings as they make history together.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” Rose said. “For them to go 2-0 on the first day, what more could you ask for? They are great kids from a great family.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong