JAMESTOWN — Opening Day for the high school wrestling season is always a fun-filled event at Greeneview High, but this season had a little bit more excitement, and for a really good reason.
For the first time in school history, an all-girls Greeneview Middle School team held its first match.
And they won!
In successive matches, Middle Schoolers Alison Calhoun, Gwen Matt, Tessa Allen, Savannah Williamson, Isabell Carrington and Eve Matt each took to the center circle, before a loud and rowdy Greeneview crowd.
Perhaps the loudest cheer came after the second match when Gwen Matt recorded a pin to win her match. The referee raised Matt’s hand in victory. As is customary, Matt then shook the hands of the Westerville Walnut Springs coaches.
As isn’t as customary, but looked a lot more fun, Matt then ran over and leapt into coach Sam Hook’s arms.
Afterward, Hook could barely keep his emotions in check.
“This all started with Emma Randall about 15 or so years ago,” Hook said. “The Harlow girls (Ellie and Karlie) who are now on the high school team, they’re cousins to Emma Randall. And they watched Emma wrestle. When Emma wrestled for me in junior high, these girls saw all that. So they just wanna be like Emma.”
Emma Randall began her wrestling career at Greeneview Elementary School, and she went on to serve as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Wrestling Team. She is the first woman to earn Gold Level Certification in the USA Wrestling National Coaches Education Program, and was recently hired as the Beat The Streets Girls Development Director in New York City.
The Greeneview Middle School girls team defeated Walnut Springs by an 18-15 score, in an abbreviated program of matches. Williamson, Calhoun, Allen and Carrington then pulled double duty and wrestled for the boys middle school team as well.
The boys team defeated the Wolves of Walnut Springs by a 51-27 score.
In the day’s first matches, the Greeneview High varsity team lost its season opener to Tipp City Tippecanoe by a 42-35 score. Teagan Hendricks, Payden Kibble, Rylan Hurst, Gabe Shoults, Hawkeye Hickman and Ellie Harlow each claimed match wins for the Rams.
The crowd went crazy when Harlow recorded a first-round pin in the 220-pound match.
The significance of girls wrestling wasn’t lost on varsity coach Mark Matt, either. After all, his daughters — Gwen and Eve — were a part of the historical event.
“Promoting and being a part of this girls wrestling effort is something huge,” he said. “Ellie was perfectly willing to step up to the varsity level and wrestle. The Tippecanoe coach was kind enough to move a freshman kid up to Ellie’s weight class to give her a match, and I really appreciated that.
“My daughters are in seventh grade, and we have six girls on the middle school team. It’s gonna be really cool in a couple years that, by the time they get up there, this could be a full-fledged program. … It’s just really an exciting time to be a part of wrestling.”
The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association voted unanimously earlier this year to sponsor a girls state wrestling tournament this season. That inaugural event will take place on Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson High School, just west of Columbus. With more participation, Girls Wrestling could become its own sanctioned sport in the OHSAA.
According to Ohio High School Athletic Association Wrestling Director Tyler Brooks in a recent press release, more than 200 girls participated in wrestling last season in Ohio.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.