Jackson defends state championship in girls wrestling

Jackson defends state championship in girls wrestling

COLUMBUS – The Minerva girls wrestling team placed eighth out of 104 teams at the OHSWCA Girls State Wrestling tournament last weekend. The team scored 55 points.

Minerva coach Anthony Hilliard was pleased with his team’s top-10 finish.

“It’s really cool to see from year to year, the growth in girls wrestling,” he said. “A lot more teams have better numbers and to go down there and still be in the top 10. We’re a second-year team, so to do that two years in a row is just amazing.”

Minerva sophomore Alaina Jackson defended her state championship in the heavyweight division with a pin in 2:22.

Jackson opened the tournament with a :40 pin against Washington’s Amara Corbsie. Jackson paved her way through the tournament and faced Greeneview’s Karlie Harlow in the championship.

Jackson won the 235-lb. championship with a pin just :22 into the second period.

“Having the opportunity this year to go out and defend a state title was the craziest feeling,” said Jackson. “When the day started, I knew there was going to be some tough competition so I had to wrestle smart matches. When I pinned the finals match there was a lot of emotions, especially knowing this was year two.”

Jackson said wrestling has taught her a lot these last few years and she is thankful for this opportunity.

“Wrestling has positively impacted my life by giving me self-discipline, keeping me healthy in many different ways, and giving me something to look forward to daily,” she said. “I’ve also had the chance to create a great sister-like bond with my whole team. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

“To take Alaina from the beginning to where she is now…it’s like watching your kid take their first steps and now they’re getting in high school and they’re running. You can’t beat the feeling,” Coach Hilliard said. “The athleticism she has for a heavyweight. She’s athletic enough that she can defend. It’s very fun to watch.”

Minerva senior Kayla Phillips opened her tournament at 121 lbs. with a :24 pin against Northland’s Nahjae Alcord. Phillips was knocked out of the winners’ bracket by Sidney’s Josie Davis, losing by pin in :27. She battled back and placed sixth for the Lady Lions.

“She came in focused. There is probably not a girl on the team who wanted it more than Kayla,” said Hilliard. “She put in the work. She stayed focused and she got on the podium and that was her goal.”

Coach Hilliard said the difference between Phillips and other wrestlers was her drive to improve.

“She was videoing herself during practice. She going home and sitting up at night, studying herself wrestling,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of colleges about Kayla. If she wants to go out, I think she’ll have the chance to wrestle in college. When she wants something, she goes after it.”

Other Minerva wrestlers competing at the state tournament were: Paige Lucas (106 lbs.), Jada Shafer (111 lbs.), Michaela Jackson (126 lbs.) and Emma Hilliard (189 lbs.).