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  • Val T.

Rochester girls wrestling beats John Glenn in historic first dual

Hiroms, Haughs combine for 4 of Rochester’s 10 falls


Sports Editor, RTC

Lexi Haughs

WALKERTON — Girls wrestling is hardly a novel thing at Rochester High School.

They have their own regular season tournaments, including a 55-team tournament at Lebanon in which they competed Saturday and one which they hosted on Nov. 18.

They have their own state tournament under the auspices of Indiana High School Girls Wrestling. The IHSAA has declared girls wrestling an emerging sport.

They often have girls matches prior to a boys dual match at Rochester.

Rochester has three ranked wrestlers – Grace Hiroms, Laine Peppler and Lilly Gerald – in the most recent girls rankings.

But until Wednesday, Rochester had

Amber Blackburn

never participated in a girls dual match. Now one can cross that bit of history off the list as the Lady Zs won 10 of the 11 contested matches by fall and rolled to a 60-6 win over host John Glenn.

There is no going back from here.

“I saw it on the schedule this year,” Rochester coach Tristan Wilson said. “The head coach (from John Glenn) reached out to us, and it was like, ‘Hey, do you guys want to do it?’ … We were like, ‘Sure.’ I think this is the start to a lot more dual meets being set into the schedule, teams starting to fill out. They had a team of I think they said 12 to 14. … We have a team of nine. We’re almost there to fill out full lineups and run it like a full dual meet with JV and everything, so it was nice.”

Grace Hiroms and Lexi Haughs won twice each by fall, and Kyra Doran (120), Makenna McKee (125), Amber Blackburn (130), Lakodah Clevenger (135), Laine Peppler (145) and Lilly Gerald (105) all had one fall.

To allow both Hiroms and Haughs to wrestle twice, the dual match was only partially organized in ascending order by weight, as what might be seen in a boys dual.

Hiroms wrestled in the night’s first match, pinning Pacience Stock in 25 seconds at 170 pounds and then coming back to wrestle approximately 30 minutes later and pinning McKinley Platz in 1:05 at her more accustomed 155.

“I think I did OK,” Hiroms said. “I think the second match, my shots could have been a little bit cleaner. … In the shots, I didn’t get as deep as I wanted to because if I did, I would have come up and taken her down from there, so I just had to get back up and try again.”

Haughs, a freshman, wrestled both of her matches at 140. She turned Kam Pendl on a half-nelson and pinned her in 3:56 in her first match. In her second match, Autumn Napper got the first takedown before a Haughs reversal led to a pin in 55 seconds.

“They really stepped up,” Wilson said. “I don’t think they were expecting to wrestle twice, but it just so happened that we did it that way. And Grace bumped up a weight class for the first one, and then she went back down to wrestle a pretty tough girl at 155, and she made it look easy, and she’s dealing with a couple injuries too, so I’m really proud of her.

“Lexi, it just shows how much she’s improved to go 2-0 tonight. She seems left out sometimes, and she really dominated tonight and showed that she’s working very hard in the room.”

Doran steamrolled Rylee Cuskaden in 1:26.

“She went out and just did her job,” Wilson said of Doran.

McKee gave up a takedown in the second period to Clare Schmalzried to tie the match at 2-2, and McKee, and Schmalzried rode McKee to close out the period. McKee also started the third period on bottom, but she needed only 16 seconds of the third period to gain a reversal and a fall.

“That’s Kenna’s style,” Wilson said. “It’s like lull them to sleep, and then she’ll just pounce on them. So she did a really good job of getting that first takedown and fighting through, and the girl had pretty good defense. And then on bottom, she was trying to come up, and she was trying to quad-pod up, and she had a weird half-in, and McKenna didn’t know to circle away harder than what she was, and she was just kind of stuck there. But it showed she had some grit in her that she stuck there for two minutes with a girl hanging on her neck and hurting her shoulder the whole time and then just be put back down again in the third just to stand up and reverse pivot. … She’s a very tough girl, and it showed that match.”

Blackburn lost a contact lens mid-match against Kailee Kulp but was able to turn her and trap her arm for a fall in 1:21.

Clevenger won control over Nora Guseilla in a battle of neck ties to earn first takedown. She got an escape and another takedown in the second period before ending it in 3:11.

Peppler trapped Carlie Martin’s shoulders to the mat and won by fall in 1:12.

Gerald yielded first takedown to Brit Whitmer but got a reversal and two back points to take a 4-2 lead after one period. She executed a high crotch for a takedown in the second period and then locked in a cradle for a fall in 4:45.

Rilyn Strasser (115) lost by fall to Chloe Beerwart, though Wilson even noted with her that she’s gotten “a ton better,” particularly evidenced by a win over a girl from Penn at the Lebanon Invitational Saturday that had beaten her earlier in the year.

“They’re having a blast,” Wilson said when asked how much fun the team was having. “One way or another, we have to bond through these long trips and car rides and days together. I’ve noticed in time that the team’s really grown more together. We really don’t have any quote-unquote mean kids on the team, so that’s also helped. Everyone’s trying to help everyone succeed.”

Hiroms is also having fun. She said she put more work in during the offseason than she had previously, and she said she no longer sees the work involved as a “chore.”

“This is going to help me win a state title,” Hiroms said of the work that she’s put in.

She and Blackburn are the only seniors on a team that also has five freshmen.

“For me, they mean a lot,” Hiroms said of the freshmen. “I feel like it reminds me of when I was a freshman, so I feel like I can teach them and just see how good they are compared to how good I was as a freshman.”

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