Girls wrestlers show no fear, find foothold in Licking County

PATASKALA — The Licking Heights wrestling team competed Wednesday at Marion Harding without one of their veteran statisticians mat side.

It was time for junior Lauren Seeman to step onto the mat. Seeman and freshman Molly Crabtree represented Heights in Watkins Memorial’s Watkins Girls Wrestling Invitational.

“I wrestled the boys, but I never really wrestled,” said Seeman, who took the plunge this season. She and Crabtree competed in a girls quad at Westerville North earlier this season. “Wrestling is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s so rewarding.”

Nearly 200 high school girls competed with more than 150 more middle schoolers joining them. The invitational included several reigning individual state champions and the last three state team champions crowned by Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association — Miami East, Marysville and Harrison — with the Ohio High School Athletic Association set to contest a state tournament for the first time in March.

Licking Valley freshman Addison Justice locks up River Valley freshman Kylee Sardina in their 130-pound match during the Watkins Girls Wrestling Invitational on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. Justice placed fifth.

Licking Valley freshman Addison Justice was the lone Panther competing, but she made her mark. She finished 4-1 at 130 pounds to place fifth, losing to Westerville North’s Melania Szawranskyj, the eventual champion, in pool wrestling.

“Technique is always better than just overpowering someone,” said Justice, but she did plenty of that too, earning three of her four pins in less than a minute.

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