Francesca Lanese and Faith Gay are part of a growing movement around the state, and they couldn't be happier about it.
Lanese and Gay have been training with the Grove City boys wrestling team while also competing in girls events, which have increased this season as more girls are particiapting around Ohio.
The girls season will culminate with the first Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association state tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Hilliard Davidson.
"It's growing and it's a great thing," Greyhounds coach Ryan Mitchell said. "This is my 10th year in the (school) district. I've had a girl on the team every year and they're always some of the hardest workers we've got. When you get to the high school level, the physicality of boys versus girls changes and it makes it an unlevel playing field, so I'm really excited that this growth is happening."
Lanese, a sophomore, was second at 160 pounds in the state rankings released Jan. 9 by American Women's Wrestling, behind Hilliard Bradley sophomore Sol Franco. Lanese is 0-4 on the season and will next compete in a girls event Jan. 30 at Olentangy Orange.
"I've never been ranked that high," Lanese said. "It's pretty crazy. I try not to think about it because I don't want to let it get to me or make me nervous, but it's a good feeling."
Lanese began wrestling in seventh grade at Jackson Middle School and is in her second season with the Greyhounds.
"I wanted to do a winter sport and I checked out wrestling, I joined the team and I loved it," Lanese said. "It's a great sport for camaraderie."
She is active in the sport year-round, as she trains with coach Lou Demas in the offseason. Demas is the father of Oklahoma wrestler Dom Demas and former Ohio State wrestler Josh Demas, who were standouts at Dublin Coffman and Westerville North, respectively.
Lanese has competed in several national events in her first four years in the sport.
"I have a great offseason coach," she said. "Lou Demas is amazing. He taught me things I didn't know were considered wrestling moves."
Lanese played volleyball in middle school and her freshman year at Grove City before focusing on wrestling. Her sister, Camille, wrestled during her junior year at Grove City before graduating in 2018.
Gay, a junior in her first season in the sport, is competing at 235. She is 2-4 on the season and will join Lanese at Orange on Jan. 30.
"Faith has been amazing," Lanese said. "I was not looking forward to being the only girl on the team so when Faith came around I was ecstatic, and when she turned out to be such a great partner, I was over the moon. She's a very hard worker."
Gay and her family moved to Grove City from Trinidad and Tobago, a dual-island Caribbean nation, before her freshman year.
"This is my first sport here and I love it," Gay said. "I love it here, but it's cold. I heard about wrestling in the school news and thought it sounded fun."
Gay credits her improvement to having Lanese as a training partner.
"She's the best," Gay said. "She throws me a lot, but it's really fun learning from her. She's really good at teaching me."
Both are being coached by Renay Bakley, who began wrestling in third grade and went on to compete at Mount Vernon before graduating in 2008.
"It's really exciting to see how much the sport has grown just in the last year," she said. "The amount of girls wrestling (in Ohio) has doubled since last year, so that's awesome to see."
Mitchell anticipates the sport eventually being sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
"Why waste time trying to figure out how do we continue to incorporate girls to boys teams, let's just grow the girls," he said. "That's why Renay has been good because she's been willing to be in the room and helping out. I can teach moves, but I can't know what a girl feels about a wrestling move, so that's why it's great to have Renay."
The boys team improved to 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division with a 48-26 win over Pickerington Central on Jan. 16. Winners by pin for the Greyhounds were Caden Gordon at 132 (3 minutes, 16 seconds), Trent Vanderwerf at 138 (4:26), Dom Reynolds at 160 (5:26) and Carlin Hamilton at 170 (1:02).
Boys basketball team earns first league win
The boys basketball team defeated Lancaster 66-38 on Jan. 17 to snap a three-game losing streak and earn its first league win.
The Greyhounds were 7-6 overall before playing Central Crossing on Jan. 22. They are 1-5 in the OCC-Ohio.
Brock Waits scored 21 points to lead Grove City against Lancaster, which beat the Greyhounds 58-49 on Dec. 6 in the first round of league play.
Girls basketball team falls to Lancaster
The girls basketball team was 4-12 overall before playing Central Crossing on Jan. 21 and is 2-5 in the OCC-Ohio.
Madison Grube scored 11 points in a 30-22 loss to visiting Lancaster on Jan. 17.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Greyhounds lost to the Raiders 66-54 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 24 -- At Reynoldsburg. The Greyhounds lost to the Raiders 70-42 on Dec. 13.
Jan. 27 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
Jan. 28 -- At *Dublin Coffman with *Central Crossing, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights and *Westland
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Kenyon College
*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Pickerington North