By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
CASSTOWN — Last season, Miami East’s Olivia Shore made history, becoming only the second female wrestler ever to qualify for the OHSAA state wrestling tournament, as well as the first to ever win a first-round match.
The thing about being a trailblazer? Others want to follow in your footsteps.
Nine months later, Miami East now boasts a full girls wrestling team and played host to the state’s first ever all-girls head-to-head dual — and only the third ever nation-wide — taking on the Olentangy Orange Pioneers Wednesday night at Miami East High School.
And though the Vikings lost 48-36, it was still a historic night. And even though such an event doesn’t spring up overnight, it was still inspired by Shore’s achievement last year.
“We’ve always fought for our spot. We never really wanted to be the best boy in the country — we always just strived to be the best girl. But our opportunities to wrestle were few and far between, so that put us on boys teams,” said George Shore, Olivia Shore’s father and the coach of the Miami East girls wrestling team. “It does seem like she’s made a real impact in Ohio and pushed this sport forward for all of the girls.”
In June, the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association announced it would host a girls state wrestling tournament at the end of the season, aiming to earn emerging-sport status with the OHSAA, with girls wrestling currently still considered a club sport.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, and Olivia Shore was joined by 17 teammates on Miami East’s girls roster, the vast majority trying wrestling for the first time ever.
“She’s a motivating type of personality,” George Shore said. “She draws people to her, and man, I’m really blessed. I’ve got a really good group of athletes that decided to come out and try wrestling.”
“It feels awesome. I don’t really have words for it,” Olivia Shore said. “It was a good experience, and I’m glad it happened. I can’t wait for more.
“I’m glad we could get this many girls for the first dual — and a lot more girls throughout Ohio. I’m excited to be a captain and show the girls what wrestling is all about.”
Wednesday, the Vikings finally got some first-hand experience.
Miami East’s Isabelle Lewis (101) got things started by picking up a forfeit, then the Pioneers’ Lexi Simmons (106) scored a third-period pin to defeat Lilyan Bruggeman in 5:12 — the only match to go into the third period on the night.
Olivia Shore (111) — a two-time USA World team member — then gave the Vikings a win on the mat in impressive fashion, pinning Ayla Castin in 35 seconds. But the Pioneers ran off three straight pins after that to take a 24-12 lead.
Natalie Bair (131) snapped that run, sticking a pin in only 19 seconds against Natalia Muntanola, but three more pins in a row for the Pioneers made the score 42-18 with four matches to go — and left the Vikings needing pins in all of them to tie the score.
But Camryn Miller (160) kept the Vikings alive, recording a pin in 3:50 over Aida Walters, and Erin Hamby (170) pinned Ashley Graham in 2:10 to keep it rolling. But Olentangy Orange’s Talia Mitchell (189) was able to score a pin in 1:22 to seal the overall win, with East’s Sydney Preston (235) picking up a forfeit in the final match of the night.
“They’ve been going a little longer than us, and some of their girls have had five or six exhibition matches under their belt,” George Shore said. “Our girls were literally 0-0 coming into tonight. But we’ll get to work and fix what we need to fix. Olentangy is a great team, they’ve been working hard just like we have, and they came out the better tonight.”
In the end, though, the final result didn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that the night even happened in the first place.
“Every time I think about where girls wrestling is and where it came from, I can’t help but think of my wife, Tracy,” George Shore said. “She’s put 13 years of her life and hard work and dedication into it, doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, building teams and programs, so I’m super proud of both my girls.
“We’re just a simple family trying to make an impact on our world. With 60 colleges now offering girls wrestling scholarships, it’s creating life-changing opportunities through education.”
The Viking girls will next be in action on Jan. 4, 2020, in a tournament at Olentangy Orange. Following that, they will have two more major tournaments before the state tournament in late February.
“It was crazy. It was awesome,” George Shore said of the event. “I’m just real blessed to be part of this movement. And the crowd tonight, this community is unbelievable, the way it’s stepped up to support us. I’m just anxious to get the season rolling now after this kickoff.
“I’m thrilled. It was a big night for us.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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