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    Pirro defends state title

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    What started four years ago as a dream concluded on Sunday with Alyssa Pirro winning her second-straight Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches’ Association state championship and her third title overall.

    The Lutheran West senior was part of a plan to build a girls-only wrestling team at the school and four years later, seven of her teammates watched as she pinned Taylor’s Meghan Werbrich in four minutes flat to win the 137-pound championship.

    “It feels really good,” Pirro said. “In my first year, we didn’t really have this experience and now that we get it, it feels really good, especially because I was able to win the first two state girls championships.”

    As a freshman, Pirro wrestled on the boys’ team at Lutheran West.

    The Ohio Athletic Commission then announced it would hold a girls’ state tournament, which led Lutheran West coach Dave Ressler to put together a team for that March 2019 event and Pirro won the 142-pound championship.

    The OHSWCA followed suit and held its first girls-only state championship last winter for any wrestlers interested in competing.

    Over 200 girls signed up, but Pirro wasn’t challenged as she went 3-0 with three pins on her way to winning the 143-pound title.

    The overwhelming growth of girls wrestling in Ohio forced the OHSWCA to add four district qualifiers around the state. Pirro won her division at the Northeast District and seven of her teammates also qualified for this year’s state tournament.

    On Sunday, she was the only Longhorn remaining.

    She opened the tournament with a 22-second pin of Marysville’s Lauren Sloboda and then flattened Mason’s Emma Schatzel in 20 seconds. Western Brown’s Lacie Reese provided Pirro with a challenge in the semifinals but Pirro eventually ended that match in 5 minutes, 22 seconds.

    That semifinal win set up a championship bout with Werbrich, who is ranked third in Ohio.

    “Going into the match, I knew this girl was going to be strong and it was going to be a difficult match,” Pirro said. “I knew I couldn’t take it easy.”

    Werbrich tried to catch Pirro in a headlock but Pirro fought it off for the final 20 seconds of the first period without giving up a takedown nor back points.

    “At that point, I was really nervous because she almost had me,” Pirro said. “I know I’m good under pressure, so that helped me.”

    Pirro started the second period in the bottom position and once again found herself fighting off a Werbrich headlock attempt.

    This time, Pirro earned a reversal and put Werbrich on her back. Pirro held her grip for 48 seconds before Werbrich bridged out of the pinning combination and back onto her belly.

    Pirro wasted no time taking advantage of the now fatigued Werbrich. She ran a Power half-nelson and quickly turned Werbrich to her back and stuck her as time expired in the second period.

    “Once I got her on her back I knew,” Pirro said. “I got my boots in and the power half and once I got my boots in she was done, she didn’t want to finish the match.”

    With another championship under her belt, Pirro will compete in next weekend’s boys’ Division III sectional tournament at Independence.

    After that, she’ll take a month or two off to allow her body to recover, and then she’ll compete on the freestyle circuit with an eye on the national tournament this summer.

    Pirro committed to Indiana Tech last December so she’ll continue her education and wrestling career in college but she’ll always remember her days at Lutheran West and how she helped to build a girls-only team at the school.

    “It means a lot to me,” she said. “When I was younger, we never had this opportunity and now there are so many girls coming out in wrestling. They don’t care if it’s their first year or what, they’re coming out hard. It’s really cool to see how many girls there are now.”

    Results from other area state qualifiers:

    Brush

    Ernestine Underwood (143)

    • Lost to Laney Hitchens (Shenandoah), 2-1 sudden victory
    • Defeated Chastity Gribble (Paulding), 10-4
    • Pinned by Lily Grayem (Bishop Watterson), 0:25

    Marneice Johnson (189)

    • Pinned by Cheyenne Meade (Troy), 0:40
    • Won by technical fall over Chloe Vining (Bethel-Tate), 16-0
    • Pinned Melissa Foster (Briggs) 0:49
    • Pinned by Annika Paton (Miami East), 1:34

    GENEVA

    Heidi Stamper (131)

    • Pinned by Cassia Zammit (Miamisburg), 0:55
    • Pinned by Kayden Lewis (Rossford), 2:33

    HARVEY

    Melany Herrera (101)

    • Pinned by Isabella Savage (Taylor), 2:55
    • Pinned Heidy Monnin (Tinora), 0:22
    • Pinned by Scotlyn Adams (Western Union), 1:53

    Cristina Cortez (150)

    • Pinned by Jesse Foebar (Clermont Norhteastern, 1:23)
    • Pinned Brianna Marich (Lutheran West), 1:34
    • Pinned by Erin Martin (Walnut Hills), 3:38

    LAKESIDE

    Adrianna Hutson (131)

    • Pinned by Elisa Reese (Western Brown), 1:36
    • Pinned Kaitlyn Ketcham (Ayersville), 1:33
    • Pinned by Hailey Amador (Hilliard Bradley), 4:30

    LUTHERAN WEST

    Larissa Krantz (111)

    • Pinned by Emma Rinheart (Mount Vernon), 0:44
    • Pinned by Kelsey Lasch (Collins Western Reserve), 0:47

    Catie Kerr (116)

    • Lost to Grace Jones (London), 12-0 major decision
    • Pinned Hailey Hatfield (Delaware Hayes), 2:11
    • Lost to Abbey Puckett (Clermont Northeastern), 17-6 major decision

    Nevaeh Yarber (126)

    • Pinned by Kendra Hiett (Lakota West), 1:16
    • Pinned Emma Hanrahan (Tippecanoe), 3:24
    • Pinned by Rylee Gust (Springboro), 2:02

    Brianna Marich (150)

    • Pinned by Sol Franco (New Lexington), 0:24
    • Pinned by Cristina Cortez (Harvey), 1:34

    Alayna Lopez (160)

    • Pinned by Alleana Brown (Logan), 5:06
    • Pinned Kylie Haught (Miami East), 2:47
    • Pinned by Casey Homorody (Olentangy Orange), 2:15

    Amy Zell (170)

    • Pinned by Taryn Martin (Olentangy Orange), 0:33
    • Pinned by Emily Jirousek (Keystone), 0:49

    MADISON

    Lexi Zehe (116)

    • Lost to Caitlin Retier (Greenon), 6-2
    • Defeated Bailey Brewer (Colerain), 6-5
    • Pinned by Dakota Propeck (Western Brown), 2:12

    Maddie Moretti (235)

    • Pinned by Heily Ramos-Velez (Marysville), 3:58
    • Lost to Rylee Kirkwood (Harrison), 6-3

    MENTOR

    Campbell Splete (111)

    • Defeated Sara Borton (Olentangy Orange), 11-10
    • Pinned by Olivia Shore (Miami East), 0:25
    • Pinned by Molly Wells (Delaware Hayes), 0:38

    Alana Shriver (121)

    • Pinned by Meredith Milligan (Delaware Hayes), 2:30
    • Pinned by Makaya Crisenbery (Montpelier), 1:13

    Erika Novak (150)

    • Pinned by Erin Martin (Walnut Hills), 1:54
    • Pinned Megan Keller (Delaware Hayes), 1:49
    • Lost to Jesse Foebar (Clermont Northeastern), 7-2

    Maddie Menchaca (170)

    • Pinned Savannah Reed (Madison-Plains), 2:36
    • Pinned by Abi Miller (Western Brown), 2:46
    • Pinned by Gracian Daugherty (Ridgedale), 0:56

    NORTH

    Kailey Lesler-Harrold (101)

    • Pinned by Scotlyn Adams (Western Union), 2:17
    • Lost to Sadie Napier (Jonathan Alder), 11-3 major decision

    Breonna Preston (137)

    • Pinned by Kloe Wulff (Napoleon), 5:17
    • Pinned by Kylee Tait (Warren), 0:46

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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