BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Helping to create the very first varsity wrestling team for girls at Port Clinton High School two years ago, senior Cadence Wallace was a surprising success at the Ohio State Wrestling Tournament on March 12 at the Schottenstein Arena in Columbus, becoming a state runner-up in her state competition.
Now Wallace, 18, who finished the season at 14-2, wants to to be ready to sparkle when she hits the mat for Michigan’s Sienna State University Saints this fall. To do it, the 5-foot, 4-inch, 130-pound grappler needs some help.
Wallace wants to get serious this summer though competition with the USA Wrestling Ohio squad, a circuit that has given a definite edge to some of America’s top male and female wrestlers. To assist with her travel expenses, a benefit dinner and bake sale will be held on Wednesday, April 26 from 5-7 p.m. at Port Clinton High School.
Tickets are $11 at Mary’s Blossom Shop in downtown Port Clinton, or call Betsy Wallace (513-702-3387), Andy Wallace (513-687-8928) or Pam Bacon (419-341-6272). Limited tickets will be available the day of the banquet, as well as plentiful baked goods.
Wallace said she likes the liberal education offered at Sienna State University, planning to major in social work, and the fact that it’s only about a 90-minute drive from southeast Michigan to Port Clinton.
Her mother, Betsy Wallace, also understands her daughter’s dedication to wrestling excellence, and her hopes to expand to state and national competitions.
“Now that girls wrestling is an official Ohio high school sport, and with the success of Cadence, we’re seeing more girls participating at Port Clinton High School,” said Coach Kevin Scarpino, who has coached girls for a decade. “We’ve always had a girl on our regular wrestling teams, but now we’re seeing 800 to 1,000 girls around the state get involved and a state tournament for them.
“There were 18 girls wrestling in the state tournament in March, and we’re seeing quality female wrestlers such as Cadence.”
Wallace lost in the championship to Cassia Zammit of Miamisburg, a two-time state champ whose father won an Ohio boys wrestling crown.
Competing with USA Wrestling Ohio against young men and women from around the country is an important step. Wallace will face a talented group of wrestlers, but she will also wrestle in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the off-season. Greco-Roman is practiced worldwide and has been a first part of the Olympic Games since 1896.
Freestyle wrestling is a grappling style, which involves using almost any technique to throw down and pin an opponent. Greco-Roman forbids any holds below the waist, while freestyle allows competitors to use their legs as both defensive and offensive weapons.
Cadence’s siblings Dre, 15, Ethan, 14, and Conner, 13, have yet to play team sports. Her father, Andy Wallace, pilots the party fishing boat, The Sassy Sal, docked in downtown Port Clinton.
Cadence and other female athletes often relish sports such as wrestling and even football these days.
“DC Lanier, who’s now a Port Clinton basketball star, and I both played with boys in football while we were in Middle School,” said Wallace, with a laugh.
Her mother, Betsy, says she doesn’t worry much about injuries. “Getting hurt is a part of sports,” she said.
Coach Scarpino agrees.
“How tough are girls? Pound for pound, they’re tougher than the boys!” he exclaimed.
Another bonus for Port Clinton athletes, whether they’re wrestlers, football or basketball players, is the well-appointed 26,000-square foot Port Clinton Fieldhouse that opened a couple of years ago.
“The kids seem to be more serious when they work out there,” said Scarpino. “It has a lot of sophisticated athletic benefits, and brings athletes from a variety of sports together to train or lift weights.”