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The First of Many

The First of Many

Columbus, OH – The annual Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) State Wrestling Championships were held this past weekend in Columbus and, as per the usual, some of the nation’s finest high school wrestling was on display. This year was different, though; for the first time, boys and girls competed for state titles side-by-side at the Schottenstein Center.

“The First” was the theme of the weekend, as it was the first year of girls wrestling being an OHSAA-sanctioned sport and competing alongside the boys’ event. In front of a packed house, fourteen girls were crowned as the inaugural state champions in OHSAA history, each with their own unique path and story showcasing what made this weekend and moment so singular. The round was bookended by falls, the first by Makennah Craft at 100 lbs and the last by Alaina Jackson at 235 lbs, but contained plenty of drama for those in attendance and left no doubt that this weekend was the first of what will surely be many memorable OHSAA Girls State Wrestling Championships.

Monumental as it was, bringing boys and girls together was not the only “first” of the weekend. For the first time in event history, the OHSAA partnered with RUDIS Wrestling to deliver a top-to-bottom premium experience for fans, coaches, and athletes alike. The partnership produced an event experience unlike any in Ohio history, including the sale of premium wrestling apparel and footwear, mat-side video, unparalleled event production, and a host of RUDIS-sponsored athletes. World and Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Snyder, and Amit Elor were joined by World and Olympic medalist Sarah Hildebrandt, Olympian and World medalist Kayla Miracle, five-time collegiate national champion Emily Shilson, Senior National champion Kollin Moore, and young phenoms Nick Feldman, Kennedy Blades, and Korina Blades center mat Saturday to a standing ovation.

That ovation, impressive as it was, paled in comparison to the one given to the man who took the mat immediately after – Matt Dernlan. The Ohio wrestling legend and longtime NCAA D1 head coach, who was temporarily paralyzed after a life-threatening illness in 2021, rose to his feet with the help of Moore and Snyder to a raucous round of applause from all in attendance to announce the founding of the Get Up Foundation, which is aimed towards helping provide funds for the rehabilitation of seriously injured athletes.

As the last of the mats were rolled up and the Schottenstein Center fell dark Sunday evening, a landmark weekend in Ohio wrestling history came to a close. Fourteen girls were crowned as the first state champions in OHSAA Girls Wrestling history and forty-two boys won titles.  The event itself provided countless moments that will live forever in the hearts and minds of Ohio wrestling fans. Many more weekends like this are in store for this legendary wrestling state, but only one will ever be known as “The First.”

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