COLUMBUS — When Eve Matt heard the referee’s hand slam the mat, she was in shock.
Not because she was the winner, but rather she didn’t think the referee was going to award a pin.
On an earlier near fall, Eve Matt thought she had Sophia Rohrs of Lebanon held down enough and was surprised the official continued the match. Ready to have to wrestle for another four-plus minutes afterward, she ended up only needing one to secure a state title.
Eve Matt became the first Greene County female to win a championship at an OHSAA-sanctioned state wrestling tournament on Sunday as she prevailed in the 140-pound division at the Schottenstein Center.
“I’ve wrestled her before and it went pretty far,” she said. “But this time I wanted to get it done a little faster and I did it.”
Matt grabbed the first takedown points a little more than a minute into the match. She thought she was going to be awarded a pin on that move, but was only given an additional two points for a near fall which gave her a 4-1 lead after the first period.
Starting neutral in period two, another takedown seconds after the whistle began the setup to the eventual winning pin.
Cheers were heard from her supporters in section 111 as Eve rose to her knees and let the moment sink in.
“The ref asked me before he raised my hand, ‘where’s your family?’ and I had no idea,” she said.
Mark Matt may be a team coach, but he’s also Eve’s father and wants to keep things that way when it’s her turn on the mat. As he had all tournament, Mark looked on from afar before the match before making his way out of view when it was bell time.
As he paced in the concourse, he received updates from a fellow coach who initially didn’t realize why his nerves were showing until he saw it was Eve’s match taking place.
“He was my eyes and ears,” Mark said. “Finally he told me to get in here when the pin was taking place. I got to see them getting up and the hand raised and handshake and all that went with it, but the stress level was really, really high.”
When the two met after the match, it was business as usual. There was a quick hug, more than Mark said he would expect from even-cooled Eve while she was exhausted from the three-day weekend.
Eve was joined at the championships by her twin sister, Gwen, who competed in the 135 division. Teammate Karlie Harlow also qualified, producing a fifth-place finish at 235 to help the Rams secure a tie for fifth as a team.
The event was the first time the OHSAA has held a girls tournament after the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association conducted tournaments the last three years at Hilliard Davidson High School. All three girls participated in last year’s event, but simply moving venues was enough for Eve to get the belief the event was grander.
“Everything is just so much bigger and it feels more profound that it was before,” Eve Matt said. “Like it just feels like it means more and it’s exciting to be part of that.”
Ready to come out of the tunnel and be announced at the start of the match, Eve said she was initially nervous because her opponent didn’t appear to be the same way. It didn’t help she had already spent most of the day trying to stave away negative thoughts because of the lengthy time between matches.
With her mother, Dana, towing around her bags during the day and getting a healthy meal ready to keep herself fresh, Eve said she was more prepared than she realized.
What was next after the grueling tournament concluded?
“I want to go to bed,” Eve said.
She got to do so as a state champion.
— Mark Matt (@GHS_CoachMatt) March 15, 2023
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.