Last year Taryn Martin was the only girls wrestling at Olentangy Orange High School. However this year, an effort was made to kick start a Girls Wrestling Program. Over 20 girls joined the program in the first year with the program anticipated to continue growing.
“From the start, the goal was to win the state title and the mission was to grow girls wrestling. At times, the mission took priority, and that led to extra pressure in the home stretch, but it was necessary,” girls wrestling coach Brian Nicola said.
At the end of December, the girls started off the season at home against Marysville and Ridgedale. Noel Frye went 2-0, winning both of her matches by pin and seven other wrestlers including seniors Anna Grabau and Christy Wingert, and junior Taryn Martin won by pin.
Right before the holiday break, on December 12, girls wrestling competed in the first girls dual meet in Ohio against Miami East High School. Orange won 48-36 with eight different girls winning by pin, including Wingert (121), Alyssa Wallace (126), Martin (137), and Grabau (143).
On Saturday January 18, the team competed in the Ron Alexander Memorial at Lutheran West against sixteen other teams. Three girls, Taryn Martin, Alyssa Wallace, and Christy Wingert, all went 2-0, while Anna Grabau put up a fight, but lost against the number one ranked girl in the state.
“In practice we focused on technique and possibilities for multiple moves in different scenarios, in order to grow mentally and physically,” senior wrestler Anna Grabau said.
The team competed at Mount Union University in a tri-meet against Luthern West and then Alliance and Minernva. The girls won against Luthern West 52-18, however, lost against Alliance and Minerva 39-42. Duval, Carroll, Davis, Martin and Sautter all went 2-0 with multiple wins over ranked opponents.
On Thursday January 30, both boys and girls wrestling competed with gymnastics in Beauty and the Beast, celebrating Senior Night. Celebrating Anna Grabau, Alyssa Wallace, Cristy Wingert, Jolie Caroll, Paulette Vazquez-Rivera, and Alayna Smith. The boys took on Westerville South and won 52-18. While, the girls wrestled against nine other teams with seven girls winning by pin, including Wingert (121), Martin (137), Grabau (143) and Mitchell (189).
“With only Taryn having experience, we focused on trying to master the basics and just being tough and physical with the skills. Coach Oswalt spent time getting them to be aggressive because most of them hadn’t done a combat sport before, but they adapted quickly and in turn it won them a lot of matches” Nicola said.
At the beginning of February, the girls competed in the Bellefontaine Tournament, including eight number one ranked wrestlers, and with over 70 ranked wrestlers in attendance. Orange won with 249 points and had twelve top six placers. Martin (137), Frye (160), and Mitchell (170) all placed first in their weight class.
On Wednesday February 13, the girls went to Marysville for a huge match up. Orange wrestling was seeded first in the state, while Marysville wrestling was seeded second. Marysville ended up winning by 18 points, 30-48. However, Natalia (131) pinned her opponent in the second period, while three Orange wrestlers won by forfeit.
At the end of February, girls wrestling competed at the first state championship and were team state runner up to Miami East. Orange had six girls make the podium. Lexi Simmons, Alayna Smith, and Adia Walters placed sixth, Noel Frye placed fourth, Anna Grabau placed third, and Taryn Martin is the 137lb State Champion.
“All in all I feel as a team the season went really well. Of course we had our ups and downs, but in the end we grew closer and created a family like no other,” Grabau said.