These girls are members of the 2018-19 Marysville High School wrestling program. They are from left, Emily Segner, Layla Oribello, Madison Sharpe, Zoe Tornberg and Emma Swart.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The Marysville High School wrestling program has a slightly different look this season.
That’s because there are five girls on the 50-plus person roster for head coach Shawn Andrews.
The ladies are juniors Madison Sharpe and Layla Oribello and freshmen Emma Swart, Zoe Tornberg and Emily Segner.
Andrews said he was not at all adverse to having girls join the team.
“Wrestling is for anybody and the lessons you can learn from the sport are not limited by gender,” he said.
The first female of the group to express an interest in joining the team has a familiar last name.
“Madison had expressed an interest in wrestling a year ago,” said Andrews.
Sharpe’s older brother Deric was a very good wrestler for the Monarchs a handful of years ago and capped his career with an appearance in the Division I state tournament.
“That’s how I really got interested in wrestling,” she said. “I had also wrestled a couple of times when I was very young.”
Most of the girls became interested in the mat sport through either family or friends.
“I watched one of my cousins wrestle when I was young,” said Swart. “My family and friends really got me interested.”
“Both my dad and mom wrestled at Marysville,” added Tornberg. “Dad (Jeff) wrestled two years here and Mom (Megan Bumgarner) also wrestled.
“I also wrestled in the novice program in Delaware when I was eight years old.”
Segner comes from a wrestling family as her dad Brent wrestled as a high school athlete in Westerville, while Oribello said her father Norman wrestled in high school in California and her brother Landon competed at Pickerington Central.
“I also wrestled in the youth program at Pickerington North when I was younger,” said Oribello.
All of the girls said there are different things they enjoy about the sport.
“It’s an individual sport, but it brings people together as a team,” said Tornberg.
“It’s a challenging sport and it’s brought the five of us together as friends,” added Segner.
“I really like the challenge of wrestling,” said Oribello. “I had played other sports like soccer, volleyball and swimming. However, I had primarily been a cheerleader up until I began to wrestle.”
Wrestling can be grueling for the most experienced of matmen.
The ladies are finding that out as well.
“All of the training and practices are hard,” said Sharpe.
“When I’m struggling, I tell myself that at least I’m not dead,” laughed Oribello. “That’s when I keep going.”
While the training can be intense for the most experienced grapplers, the first-year high school wrestlers don’t receive any breaks from the coaching staff.
“We made it clear to them that they were going to be treated like wrestlers and not girl wrestlers,” said Andrews. “We expect the same things from them as we do the boys.”
“Everyone is treated the same,” agreed Swart.
Still, wrestling is a physical sport in which the threat of injury is always present.
Segner found that out the hard way.
“I was wrestling recently in practice and had a fireman’s roll put on me,” she smiled. “That’s when I broke my collarbone.”
Segner’s arm was in a sling/brace during the recent interview and she acknowledged that she will be out of action for the foreseeable future.
“I also have to sleep in a recliner with this thing on,” she said. “I’m out indefinitely, but I’m going to be their (the other girls) No. 1 cheerleader.”
Segner said she hopes she can recover quickly and “become a better wrestler and teammate.”
The others have similar goals for the 2018-19 season.
“I just want to try my best and not give up,” said Sharpe.
“I want to make it through the season without a major injury,” said Tornberg. “I’d also like to finish the season with more wins than losses.”
Swart said she wants to push herself and improve every day.
“I’m basically starting from the bottom,” said Oribello. “I just want to keep improving… and earn the team’s most improved award.”
Despite the challenges of being a female in a predominately male sport on the local level, the girls feel there are benefits to be gained.
“This is a major confidence booster for me,” said Tornberg. “This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done and it gives me a boost when I get through it.”
“It teaches you discipline and self motivation,” said Oribello.
It’s up in the air just how many matches each of the girls will compete in, since they are all basically in the same weight class at 106 pounds.
Still, one or more of them will see varsity mat action.
“We don’t have any boys’ 106-pounders,” said Andrews. “One of them will be there during matches this season.”
The girls as a group can be seen as pioneers for Monarch wrestling and they very well may open doors for future girls on the roster.
“Women’s wrestling will only continue to grow,” said Andrews. “A total of 15 states have already adopted a girls’ division for high school wrestling.
“Ohio is still listed as co-ed wrestling, so we’re not there … yet.”
...For the full story, select an option below.