2023 Girls Wrestling State Tournament Preview
By Jarrod Ulrey, @UlreySports
The growth in participation and increase in popularity that girls wrestling has experienced in Ohio in recent years figures to only be the beginning of bigger things to come for the sport.
One of the final major prep events to be held in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the OHSAA-sanctioned state tournaments in boys wrestling, girls basketball and boys basketball was the inaugural girls wrestling state tournament sponsored by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association (OHSWCA) held in late February of that year.
It was only a short time later that calls for the OHSAA to sanction girls wrestling began. The OHSWCA added a state girls dual tournament during the 2020-21 season and the OHSAA announced Jan. 13, 2022, that girls wrestling would be sanctioned as an emerging sport beginning this winter.
Last season, at the third girls-only state tournament at Hilliard Davidson, Harrison won with 111 points, Marysville was runner-up (96) and Olentangy Orange was third (83), and those three schools should find themselves among the top contenders to win the first OHSAA state team tournament title March 10-12.
It won’t be the first time girls have had success at the state’s highest level in Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center, however, considering Casstown Miami East’s Olivia Shore became the first girl at the OHSAA state boys tournament to win a championship-round match in 2019 in that venue. She went on to become the first girl to place at the state boys tournament in 2021 when she did so at 106, but the Division III boys tournament that season was held at Marion Harding.
This will mark the first time that the all-girls tournament will celebrate championships in each of its 14 weights on the same mats as the boys event, with its competition representing one division regardless of school enrollment.
On March 5 in regionals at Harrison, Marysville and Olentangy Orange, the host squads all captured championships as the Wildcats scored 242 points, the Monarchs scored 185.5 points and the Pioneers finished with 221 at their respective tournaments. Alliance finished with 136.5 to win the Mentor regional.
Harrison, Orange and Marysville each had seven state qualifiers and Alliance had five. Delaware Hayes from the Marysville regional also advanced five through to state and Findlay and Gibsonburg from Marysville, Minerva from the Mentor regional and Lebanon from the Harrison regional qualified four.
There are three girls who will be going for their fourth state titles and three who will try to land their third championships.
Vincent Warren senior Haley Snyder (26-3) won state titles at 101 in both 2020 and ’21 and will be looking for her second consecutive championship at 110 and fourth overall.
Sydney senior Josie Davis (16-0) won championships at 125 in 2020, 121 in 2021 and 126 last season and will look for another 125 title at this year’s event. Minerva senior Alaina Jackson (22-0) captured titles at 235 each of the past three seasons and will look for a fourth at that weight.
Two juniors with eyes on winning their third state titles are Harrison’s Chloe Dearwester and Toledo Whitmer’s Savannah Isaac. Dearwester won at 106 and 105, respectively, the last two seasons and is 34-0 heading into state at 105.
Isaac won at 189 and 190, respectively, the last two years and is 24-0 heading into state at 190.
Miamisburg senior Cassia Zammitt began her prep career by finishing state runner-up at 131 in 2020 but won the 131 title the next season and at 135 last season. She is 12-0 heading into this year’s state event at 130. Snyder defeated Brookville junior Molly Luebke 8-1 in last year’s 110 championship and figures to face her toughest competition from Luebke (19-2), Youngstown Boardman junior Lexi Beadle (32-2), Doylestown Chippewa sophomore Gabi Gartin (21-1), Montpelier senior Makaya Crisenberry (29-6) and Delaware Hayes senior Kasey Wells (25-7). Gartin beat Beadle 3-1 to win the Mentor title, Crisenberry defeated Wells 8-1 to win the Marysville championship and Luebke pinned New Richmond freshman Charley Jones (28-2) in 1:13 to win the Harrison title.
There are only two other returning state placers in Davis’ bracket at 125, but one is Harrison junior Raegan Briggs, who captured the title at 115 last year and won this year’s regional on her home mat. Columbus Hamilton Township junior Sienna Sanborn (38-4) finished fifth at 125 last season and won 6-2 over Columbus Bishop Watterson’s Erin Scully (21-8) to win this
year’s Orange regional. The other regional champion at 125 was Brecksville-Broadview Heights freshman Anna Madi (24-2), who pinned Avon Lake junior Layla Patterson in 54 seconds for the Mentor regional title.
The only weight that won’t have 16 competitors is 235 because the Orange regional had only two competitors. One of the 14 at that weight is Jackson, who pinned Hanoverton United sophomore Dakota McCracken (30-4) in 2:33 to win the Mentor title. McCracken was third at state last season.
Jackson pinned Jamestown Greeneview’s Karlie Harlow in 45 seconds to win last year’s state title and Harlow (31-1) is back for her fourth state trip after also finishing fourth at 189 in 2020 and second at 235 in 2021. West Chester Lakota West junior Kate Fenton (16-6), who was fourth at 235 last season, and Harrison junior Jessica Edwards (26-7), who was sixth in 2021 and seventh last season at 235, are other returning state placers. Also entering state as a regional champion is Orange sophomore Jennifer Huaracha-Arellanos (25-6).
At 105, Dearwester will have three returning state placers among her challengers. Asheville Teays Valley junior Ava Miller (37-2), who was fourth at 100 last season, took third at this year’s Orange regional. West Union junior Scotlyn Adams (32-8) took fifth at 105 a season ago and was runner-up at the Harrison regional after being pinned by Dearwester in 1:27 in the title bout. Minerva sophomore Bridget Hilliard (33-4) was fifth at 100 last season and enters as a No. 3 seed from the Mentor regional.
The other regional champions at 105 are Defiance Tinora freshman Ava Steffel (25-7) from Marysville, Sandusky freshman Nikera Johnson (31-3) from Mentor and Gahanna Columbus Academy junior Cecelia Cece Reitter (22-4) from Orange. While Zammit leads the way at 130, there are seven other returning state placers at that weight including Hamilton Badin senior Rachel Nusky (17-2), who was runner-up at 121 in 2021 and runner-up at 125 last season.
Port Clinton senior Cadence Wallace (39-2) finished fourth at 130 last season and comes in as the Marysville regional champion. Hubbard sophomore Emily Flynn (31-6) was fourth at 125 last season and is a No. 3 seed from the Mentor regional. Westerville North senior Melania Szawranskyj (29-2) was sixth at 126 in 2021 and fifth at 130 last season and won this year’s Orange regional. Alliance sophomore Abigail Mozden (36-7) won the Mentor regional.
Also from the Marysville regional are Delaware Hayes senior Kelcey Dew (27-6), who is a three-time third-place state finisher, and Marysville senior Katie Palmer (23-10), who placed fifth at 143 in 2021 and seventh at 145 last season. Isaac wrestled just one match at the regional, winning in the second round and then earning wins by default in the semifinal and final rounds. Findlay sophomore Laney Oliver (14-1), who defaulted the regional final against Isaac, lost 9-4 to Isaac for last year’s title.
Orange senior Talia Mitchell (33-4), who was fifth at 190 last season, comes in after winning the regional title at home. Batavia sophomore Kiara Martin (18-5), who was sixth at 190 a year ago, won the Harrison regional and Lakewood sophomore Zayna Muntaser (22-2) won the Mentor regional.
There are four other returning state champions: Jackson sophomore Makenna Craft (100), Marysville senior Cali Leng (120), Akron Manchester junior Jaydyn McKinney (135) and Logan senior Alleana Brown (145).
Craft (29-0) won the Orange regional and returns to defend her title at 100, where four other returning state placers are among the field. Elyria senior Riley Banyas (33-1), who won the Mentor regional, placed runner-up at 101 in 2020 and ’21 and then was third at 100 last season. Piqua junior Averi Wiley (15-1), who won the Marysville regional, placed sixth at 100 a year ago. Painesville Harvey senior Melany Herrera (16-4), who was the Mentor runner-up and placed seventh at 100 last season, and Reynoldsburg junior Summer Batts (27-10), who took eighth at 100 a year ago, also return.
Also at 100 is Cincinnati Oak Hills junior Bri Graves (30-2), who was first at Harrison. Leng is 34-1 after winning the regional on her home mats. She was sixth at 126 in 2020, won the championship at 116 as a sophomore and then took runner-up at 120 last season. Rocky River Lutheran West senior Catherine Kerr (41-4), who won the Mentor regional, was fourth last season at 120. Washington Court House sophomore Lyndyn Gibbs (39-3), who took third at 120 a year ago, was runner-up at the Harrison regional behind Clayton Northmont freshman Lacie Knick (32-1).
Lewis Center Olentangy sophomore Cori Young (38-3) from the Orange regional also enters as a No. 1 seed. Plain City Jonathan Alder junior Ava Ater, who lost 18-7 in the regional final to Leng, was fifth at 120 last season. McKinney (15-0) won last year’s 120 state title and has moved to 135, where last year’s state runner-up, Harrison junior Lilly Kinsel (25-9), also is among the field. Liberty Center senior Alexus Shaneyfelt (28-2) was fifth at 126 in 2021 and third at 135 last season. Orange senior Alicia Coleman (35-3) was a fourth-place finisher at 140 last year and comes in as a regional champion. Springboro senior Rylee Gust (8-0), who won the Harrison regional, was fourth at 116 in 2020 and third at 130 last season. Tinora senior Makenna Helmke (25-7) was fifth at 131 in 2020 and eighth at 130 last season.
Caledonia River Valley senior Lila Mencer (31-7) was sixth at 143 in 2021, Hilliard Bradley senior Hailey Amador (25-8) was sixth at 131 in 2021 and Greeneview sophomore Gwen Matt (29-4) took sixth at 115 a year ago. Brown won the 160 title in 2021 before settling for a runner-up finish at 170 last season but has dropped to 145 where she’ll face a field that includes seven other returning state placers. Marysville senior Aubrey Reese (26-5), who took fifth at 160 in 2021 and was runner-up at 155 last season, comes in as a regional champion. Eaton sophomore Caroline Klawon (15-4) was third at 155 last season and Batavia Clermont Northeastern junior Jesse Foebar (27-9) took sixth at 150 in 2021 and third at 145 last season.
The other regional champions at 145 are Orange junior Surraiya Mahmud (31-3), who was fifth at 155 last season, Mogadore junior Mia Gaetjens (25-5) from the Mentor regional after she placed seventh at 135 last season, and Lebanon senior Lexi Fornshell (35-7), who won the Harrison regional and was eighth at 145 a year ago. North Canton Hoover senior Jordan Palmer (25-9) was eighth at 140 last season.
Heading into state at 115 as regional champions are Miami East sophomore Kira Cole (35-0), Oak Hills senior Lexi Grant (39-1), Mount Vernon junior Emma Rinehart (31-8) and LaGrange Keystone senior Lydia Gould (30-7). Rinehart was third at 115 last season.
Others leading the way at 115 should include Grove City Central Crossing junior Addison Rudolph (30-7), who was fifth at 101 in 2021 and third at 105 last season, and Delaware senior Molly Wells (28-10), who was sixth at 111 in 2021. At 140, Canal Winchester freshman Razilee Wisseh (27-9), Cleveland Central Catholic freshman Ajiahna Triplett (22-1), Lebanon senior Sophia Rohrs (37-3) and Greeneview sophomore Eve Matt (34-2) come in as regional champions. Rohrs was fifth at 140 and Eve Matt was seventh at 120 last season.
Mt. Orab Western Brown senior Abigail Miller (31-5), placed sixth at 170 in 2020, third at 170 in 2021 and eighth at 155 a year ago. Also last season, Jonathan Alder senior Alahna Levasseur (26-5) took sixth at 140 and Warren Champion senior Olive Karam placed eighth at 135.
Heading into state as No. 1 seeds at 155 are Lewisburg Tri-County North sophomore Madison Jeffers (4-0), Port Clinton junior Mya Reeves (17-7), Vincent Warren junior Kylee Tait (27-2) and East Liverpool junior Makya Newlun (19-0). Tait was sixth at 137 in 2021 and state runner-up at 140 last season.
Alliance junior Jayda Patrick (32-9) finished third at 150 in 2021, Chippewa sophomore Isabella Adams (31-4) was fourth at 145 last season and East Liverpool junior Makya Newlun (19-0) was fifth at 135 a year ago. Loveland freshman Elizabeth Madison, who won the Harrison regional and is 38-0, leads the way at 170.
Columbus St. Francis DeSales senior Rebekah Oladokun (28-3), who was sixth at 143 in 2020, fourth at 137 in 2021 and sixth at 155 last season, won the Orange regional. The other regional champions at 170 were Findlay sophomore Kate Simmons (33-5) from the Marysville regional and Lutheran West junior Paris Willis (39-5) from the Mentor regional. Last season at 170, Simmons was sixth and Willis placed eighth. Watterson senior Lily Grayem (25-5), who was fourth at 155 last season, Morral Ridgedale senior Nya Miller (21-4), who took fourth at 150 in 2021 and seventh at 170 last season, and Orange junior Kascidy Garren (33-3), who placed fifth at 145 a year ago, are the other returning state placers at 170.