COLUMBUS — It may have been one of the best kept secrets in high school sports in Ohio.
The Washington High School girls wrestling team took three of its members to the Inaugural girls State tournament in Columbus March 10-12 and they acquitted themselves extremely well.
The first Ohio High School Athletic Association girls State wrestling tournament combined student-athletes from all schools, from the biggest Division I schools to the smallest Division III schools.
In all, 111 schools scored at least two team points.
Washington finished tied for eighth place with Delaware Hayes with 42 points.
Of Division II schools, only Warren placed above Washington (taking third with 65 team points).
Harrison won the State title with 97 team points.
Jackson, with State champion Makennah Craft at 100 pounds, placed in a four-way tie for 15th place.
Washington finished ahead of teams from big schools such as Reynoldsburg, Westerville North, Dublin Scioto, Olentangy, Teays Valley, Hilliard Darby and Logan.
Washington sophomore Lyndyn Gibbs went 4-1 at the State tournament and finished in third place in the 120-pound weight class.
In her first match on Friday, Gibbs pinned Adison Justice of Licking Valley in 1:28.
On Saturday, in the quarterfinals, Gibbs defeated Catherine Kerr of Lutheran West, 4-2.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Gibbs lost to eventual State champion Cali Leng of Marysville, 11-6.
In the consolation semifinals Sunday morning, Gibbs rebounded from what would be her only setback at State with an 8-0 major decision over Ava Ater of Jonathan Alder.
Then, less than two hours later Sunday morning, Gibbs shut out Cori Young of Olentangy, 3-0 to secure the third place spot on the podium.
Later Sunday evening, Gibbs had her moment of recognition, standing on the State podium in third place.
Going into the State tournament, Gibbs said her goal was to have her best match of the year.
“I knew I was going to go against Cali and she was my semifinals match last year,” Gibbs said. The girls State wrestling tournament, ran by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association, was held the past three seasons at Hilliard Davidson High School.
“I just wanted to have a good match with her,” Gibbs said. “And see where I was; my growth from last year to this year. It really has helped me from there.”
Now that the OHSAA has sanctioned girls wrestling as its 27th sport, the location of the State tournament moved from Hilliard Davidson H.S. to the campus of The Ohio State University.
Over 13,000 people were on hand each of the first two days of the tournament. The crowd was even larger, as expected on the final day Sunday.
“It was nerve-wracking on the first day,” Gibbs said. “By the second day, I got used to it. It was like just any old tournament for me. I wrestle every match like it’s my State championship match.”
“My family, they’re my biggest supporters,” Gibbs said. “Branton Dawes comes in and practices with me. He’s helped me a lot this week with throws and getting to my shots with better offense.
“My coaches, Craig (Snyder) and my dad (Wes Gibbs) have been there with me since I was little,” Gibbs said. “They’ve been there with me since I was in the sixth grade at the State championship.”
Gibbs said she began wrestling at the age of 7.
Gibbs spoke about the other two team members who made it to the State tournament.
“Leah (Marine) has been my drill partner since last year,” Gibbs said. “I think next year she definitely places (at State). This year she had a really tough set in the brackets.
“I was really proud of Brooklyn (Wade),” Gibbs said. “She beat a girl she hadn’t beaten this year (senior Karlie Harlow of Greeneview). She hadn’t beaten her all year and she pinned her (in the semifinals). I could have ran over and given her a hug right then and there.”
Harlow finished her senior season with a record of 33-2.
“I’m committing to wrestling all year,” Gibbs said. “I have the Viper Pit (a tournament to be held in Tridelphia, West Virgina April 1 and 2).
“We’re taking this week off and then we’re bouncing right back to get ready for (the Viper Pit tournament),” Gibbs said.
What about the accomplishment of tying for eighth place as a team at State with just three competitors?
“It felt nice, placing eighth,” Gibbs said. “We only had three girls and normally we have six. Having only three, I didn’t think we were going to place very high as a team. Making it in the top 10 was just a wonderful feeling.”
“Lyndyn came out (Sunday) and wrestled Ava Ater, who is, I think, ranked No. 6,” Washington head coach Wes Gibbs said. “She wrestled her real well. She controlled the entire match. That was her 85th career win; as a sophomore, that’s huge.
“Then she wrestled Cori Young for third and fourth,” Gibbs said. “Cori’s a tough girl from Olentangy. We’ve been looking foward to that match-up for a while, because their styles tend to match-up a little better. They both wrestle similarly. That was a huge win.
“(Lyndyn) is now our first two-time (State placer),” Gibbs said. Gibbs placed third at the State tournament in 2022.”