High School wrestling: CJ freshman eyes title at girls state tournament

Chaminade Juliene freshman Isabell Carrington, top, competes at the OHSWCA girls state championships this weekend. CONTRIBUTED

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Chaminade Juliene freshman Isabell Carrington, top, competes at the OHSWCA girls state championships this weekend. CONTRIBUTED

DAYTON – Isabell Carrington has experienced the atmosphere at the OHSWCA girls state championships, but not like she will Sunday.

Carrington, a freshman at Chaminade Julienne High School, attended last year’s inaugural Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association girls state tournament as a spectator. This weekend she goes to the mat.

Don’t expect Carrington to be intimidated. She’s already toed the line with some of the best wrestlers in the state – and nation. Carrington trains at the Shore Wrestling Club in St. Paris alongside defending state champions Olivia Shore of Miami East and Josie Davis of Sidney, among others.

This is the first season for CJ’s girls wrestling team. Carrington and fellow freshman Melanie Kenney, the niece of CJ boys coach Joel Sanchez, are the lone two wrestlers. Girls coach Britney Carrington, Isabell’s step-mother, anticipates as many as seven wrestlers next season.

Having Carrington standing atop the podium wouldn’t hurt when recruiting the hallways. Carrington won the 160-pound weight class with a 3-0 record at the Southwest District championships last weekend at Harrison High School. She pinned all three opponents in 50 seconds, 3:37 and 2:26.

“I was really happy to find out I was good enough to beat all those girls and get to the top of the podium,” Carrington said. “It was great. I honestly haven’t been on top of the podium very much in my wrestling career. Being up there looking at all my friends and having everyone cheer for me, even from different schools, it was great. I loved the experience.”

As for Kenney, she reached the 106-pound semifinals at the district tournament where lost to the champion and eventually finished sixth.

At state, Carrington – now in her sixth season – enters as the most experienced wrestler in her weight class.

“It started out with my little sister coming home with a flyer for wrestling,” Carrington said of seventh-grader Isla “June” Pyles-Treser. “She’s been wrestling for one year more than I have. I watched her wrestle for a year and I went to her meets. I ended up giving it a try.”

Also qualifying for state were Brookville’s Rita Carey (111), Miamisburg’s Aubrey Garrison (111) and Cassia Zammit (131), Piqua’s Averi Wiley (106), Springboro’s Rylee Gust (126), Tippecanoe’s Emma Hanrahan (126), Troy’s Cheyenne Meade (189), Davis and 11 wrestlers from Miami East.

The Vikings won the state title last season and have a solid shot to repeat with Lily Bruggeman (101), Shore (111), Sarah Root (121), Natalie Bair (131), Kyleigh Kirby (143), Erin Hamby (150), Kylie Haught (160), Kaylee Griffith (170), Annika Paton (189), Sydney Preston (235) and non-scoring member Shelby Preston (189).

Miami East has 11 girls competing, but two are in the same weight class so only 10 wrestlers count toward the team scoring. Also qualifying double-digit wrestlers were Delaware Hayes (13, 10 scoring), Marysville (11, 10 scoring) and Olentangy Orange (11).

Carrington honed her skills competing with Shore, Davis, Gust and Zammit at the club level.

“They’re so high on the food chain in the wrestling world. Learning from them helps a lot,” Carrington said. “They set the standards high. They actually appreciate your company, too. You build lots of friendships through this sport.”

Carrington attended Greeneview Middle School last year and also trained with Rams’ state qualifiers Ellie and Karlie Harlow. Britney Carrington coached the Greeneview girls last season and Isabell was there to witness Ellie’s state title.

“That definitely set a spark in her eyes to get on top of the podium this year,” coach Carrington said.

The state tournament will be split into two sessions, both at Hilliard Davidson High School. Saturday’s session includes weight classes 101 through 131. Sunday’s session finishes with 137 through 235.

“I’m looking to be on top of the podium,” Carrington said. “I really expect for these girls to come out hungry for the state title. I’m going to go out there and be hungrier and get to the top of the podium.”

“Isabell’s wrestling partners are going to help her get to the top of the podium, for sure,” coach Carrington said. “I definitely think her strengths are going to be her comfort on the mat and her ability to go all three periods with anyone.”

Coach Carrington also serves as chairwoman for Ohio’s chapter of Wrestle Like A Girl, a non-profit founded by Olympic wrestler Sally Roberts in 2016. WLAG focuses on empowering and increasing opportunities for females through wrestling. Among Ohio’s initiatives is getting the sport sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

“All hands on deck trying to get this movement going,” coach Carrington said. “We’re continuing to try and make this push so girls have more opportunities for sports. I have college coaches emailing me every week asking for juniors and seniors. They have scholarship money available. Just trying to get these girls mat time and experience.”

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