Canon-Mac’s Valarie Solorio makes history as 1st PIAA girls wrestling champion

Saturday, March 9, 2024 | 7:58 PM

Only one can be first.

That is the distinction Valarie Solorio of Canon-McMillan always will have. Solorio won the 100-pound gold medal at the inaugural PIAA girls wrestling championships Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey. Because hers was the first weight class to complete, Solorio became the first PIAA girls wrestling champion.

She earned that honor by pinning Grace Nesbitt of Neshaminy in 3 minutes, 14 seconds of the championship bout. Solorio was already ahead 15-3 when the fall happened, but don’t tell her that the matchup was without challenges.

“That was not easy at all,” Solorio said. “I had to wrestle smart.”

Her gold medal also helped Canon- McMillan to another first: the first PIAA girls team championship (93 points). That was helped along by a silver medal from Natalie Rush and a bronze from Audrey Calgaro.

But first, of course, Solorio’s achievements require a further look. She finished with a 17-0 record this winter and a 117-5 career record. She will be wrestling for Iowa next year and already has goals of winning conference and national championships with the Hawkeyes.

Those are lofty goals, but she will have four chances at them. Because the first PIAA championships came in her senior year, she knew she would have only one chance at this event.

“It wasn’t as much pressure as excitement that I had just one shot to do this,” Solorio said.

That excitement carried in the final and through the bout, in which she recorded four takedowns.

“It was like nothing I had expected, to be in that arena and securing a state championship for my team,” Solorio said.

Solorio won all four of her state matches by fall, totaling 6:40. The championship was the only one not settled in the first period.

Nesbit, a freshman, finished with a 22-1 record.

Although Solorio’s victory started the championship session on a strong note for the WPIAL, the other four finalists from District 7 lost their contests.

Rush was pinned at the 1:40 mark of the 190 gold-medal match by Bishop McCort’s Alyssa Favara. Favara recorded a couple of takedowns, split by an escape by Rush, before ending the match.

Rush finished her junior season with a 33-3 record and brought her career record to 89-8.

Favara, a senior, was 10-3 this year but 53-5 for her career.

“She’s definitely a tough one to have my match against,” Rush said.

But a team championship took some of the sting out of the individual loss.

“I’m very excited to have our girls be the first to have this title,” Rush said.

At 118, in a battle of previously undefeated wrestlers, Butler’s Anna Malovich was beaten by Palisades’ Savannah Witt. Witt, who finished the season 30-0, never trailed.

But Malovich gave her a little scare in the second period.

Down 7-2 early in the second, Malovich made an escape and then recorded a takedown with 40 seconds left. That brought her within 7-5, but she was never able to get any near-fall points. Witt regained control of the match quickly in the third with an escape, takedown and two nearfall points.

Malovich, a senior, finished her season at 18-1 and her career at 77-36.

Another matchup of perfect records came at 130, where Moon’s Haley Smarsh was pinned by Easton’s Aubre Krazer at 2:16.

Smarsh scored both of her points via escapes. The Tigers freshman finished the year at 28-1, and Krazer, a junior, finished the year at 26-0 to bring her career record to 60-0.

North Allegheny’s Leyna Rumpler came up just short of a gold medal, dropping a 1-0 decision to Hickory’s Avry Ryhal at 155. Ryhal scored the lone point with an escape midway through the second period.

Rumpler nearly had a takedown at the end of the first period, but time ran out. She also came close to an escape in the third period two times, but Ryhal kept her grip on her as they ran out of the circle.

Rumpler, a senior, finished her season at 35-2 and her career at 102-20. Ryhal, also a senior, finished at 26-2 and 31-2, respectively.

Third-place matches

Ava Golding of Kiski Area posted a 19-2 victory over Sara Shook of Western Wayne in the 136 bronze-medal bout. She beat Abigail Dolanch of Fort Cherry in the early morning fourth-round consolations to make it to the third-place contest.

At 100, Knoch’s Miranda Lajevic claimed third place with a pin at 3:57 over Ella Hesener of Parkland. Lajevic won an earlier consolation match with another pin, in 3:49, over Payton Hinkle of Bensalem.

Calgaro finished third at 170 with a pin against Sierra Ripka of Greater Nanticoke in 1:46. She also pinned Aabur Brletich of Northern York in 1:31 in the first session of the day.

Plum’s Saphia Davis, who was looking to win five straight consolation bouts after an opening-round defeat, dropped her third-place match at 124 by a 4-1 count to Isabella DuVall of Phillipsburg-Osceola. Davis won her earlier consolation bout 2-0 over Abigail Taylor of Parkland.

Fifth-place matches

Trinity Moore of Connelsville pinned Yunuen Ayala of Canon-McMillan 2:52 into the 118 fifth-place match. In the early morning round, Moore lost 4-1 to Anaiah Kolesar of Northeast Bradford, and Ayala fell to Saige Oliver of Honesdale by a pin at 3:35.

In another all-WPIAL contest, Josephine Dollman of Norwin pinned Grace O’Korn of Peters Township in 1:52 at 142. Dollman lost her first match of the day 6-4 to Jessica Ayala of Garnet Valley. O’Korn was pinned by Sayona Harris-Haye of Greater Johnstown in 4:09.

Montour’s Kristen Walzer lost her first 100 match 5-3 to Hesener and had to injury default out of the fifth-place contest.

Asia Fowler of Woodland Hills lost 6-4 to Emily Murphy of Montgomery early in 130, then dropped the fifth-place match 8-1 to Shannon Govern of Hamburg.

At 136, Dolanch lost to Kayley Weidner of Schuylkill Valley 11-1.

Dynsity Williams of Canon-McMillan was shutout by Kylie Monroe of Gettysburg, 5-0, at 155. Earlier, Williams was pinned by Northern Bedford’s Raegan Snider at 1:39.

Plum’s Alaina Claassen lost 2-0 to Mylah Steinbach of Bedford at 235. She also lost 9-0 to Kayla Henderson of South Western in the earlier match.

Seventh-place matches

Alexis Brua of Laurel finished seventh in 124 after pinning Tatum Duckworth of South Western in 2:37.

Janayah Nobles of Connellsville also won her seventh-place match at 136 against Alexis Kurzawa of Hughesville with a pin at 2:42.

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