Westmoreland athletes of the week: Norwin’s Josephine Dollman, Franklin Regional’s Brandon Smith

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Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 10:21 PM


Josephine Dollman

School: Norwin

Class: Sophomore

Sport: Wrestling

Claim to fame: Dollman made history last weekend when she became the first girl from Westmoreland County — and her school — to win a WPIAL individual wrestling title. Dollman, who is 20-3 with 18 pins, won the championship with a fall against Grace O’Korn of Peters Township in the 142-pound final.

This is the first year for girls wrestling in the WPIAL.

What emotions were you feeling when you won the WPIAL title?

When I was getting on that podium, I felt really happy. I thought I could contain my emotions, but when my dad hung my metal around my neck and gave me a hug, he whispered to me, “I’m so proud of you,” and the tears just kind of started to flood. It is definitely a moment I’m gonna remember for a long time.

Did you consider yourself the favorite in your weight class?

As far as my weight class went, I would say that I was considered the favorite mostly because of how long I’ve been around wrestling.

How significant is your win, and your teammate, Octavia Walker’s, for the Norwin program?

For me and Tav to win the WPIAL titles, it means a lot for our program because there was a point in time where (the team) almost didn’t exist, so we are kind of proving to our school that we deserve to have a program.

Are there more girls coming up who want to wrestle at Norwin?

There’s definitely a significant increase in girls wrestling at Norwin. We have 10 on the roster now, with more coming up next year from the middle school, so I think next year we’re gonna be booming.

What move or moves have helped you become a championship-caliber wrestler?

So overall improving my technique has helped a lot, but learning a bar and wing combo to pin has been the best technically wise this year.

How does it feel to be part of the first season of girls wrestling in the WPIAL, and what does it say about girls sports in general?

It feels absolutely surreal. I didn’t even think we were going to ever get here, and I think it says that these girls are improving a lot and these girls are here to stay.

What is the most challenging part of being a wrestler? Do you have to watch what you eat?

I think the most challenging part is the mentality, where sometimes you’re gonna be in difficult situations, and you just have to power through. I personally don’t have to watch what I eat, because I generally sit around (the weight) where I wrestle at.

What makes a good pinner?

Just having moves like a bar down that you can pull out at any time and you know will work.

What did you do with your gold medal?

I have a little stand in my room that I hang all my medals on, and I made sure to put that one front and center.

Do you change anything in your preparation for regionals and states?

Not just for me, but for every girl at Norwin, we definitely have kicked it into high gear for regionals and states. We are seeing a whole new level that some of the girls aren’t used to yet, but it’s definitely gonna help us shine these next few weekends.

Do you play any other sports?

I used to do a couple other sports, but I’ve decided to focus on wrestling for the rest of my career.

Who is your favorite professional wrestler?

Helen Maroulis. She was an absolute trailblazer, and I look up to her. She is my idol.

What is your favorite subject in school?

Psychology, just because I think it’s really cool to learn about the brain and how our body functions.

Any interesting hobbies or life experiences to share?

I wrestle seven days a week, most of the time two times a day, but I really like to read the Bible and I really like to journal.

What is your dream vacation spot?

Definitely Rio de Janeiro because I really want to see the Christ the Redeemer statue and just visit a lot of places that are in Brazil.

Who is the toughest girl on your team?

I would say fellow sophomore Lily Chaney. She has a heart of gold, and she went from not being able to last 30 seconds on the mat to now having six wins under her belt. She is probably the most hard-working person I’ve ever met.

Who is your celebrity crush?

In general, I would say that my boyfriend of two years is probably my crush.

Any pets? What are their names?

I have five pets: two dogs and three cats. The dogs’ names are Bella and Lily. The cats are Suplex, Winnie and Salem Suplex. Super Suplex is my best friend, and he definitely powers me through the tough times.

I can’t wrestle a match until I _______?

Pray with the girls. It’s our tradition as a team.

What advice do you have for youth girl wrestlers who want to compete in high school?

Even if there’s times that are hard, keep her mentality right and focus on yourself because it will all pay off in the end.

What makes you smile?

Seeing the girls, especially our first years, thrive on the wrestling mat.

What would make the world a better place?

I think just kindness and general would make the world a better place. I try to compliment at least one person every day, and I always try to make friends at tournaments because I think community is what makes wrestling as great as it is.

Coach Kyle Martin’s greatest advice is _____?

Don’t be average. A lot of average wrestlers will take days off, and a lot of average wrestlers will start to let up because they think they’ve made it as far as they need to. Martin reminds us that we aren’t average and we need to kick it into high gear for postseason.

Brandon Smith

School: Franklin Regional

Class: Senior

Sport: Bowling

Claim to fame: Smith captured the WPIBL individual championship by defeating Greensburg Central Catholic’s Michael Mullaney, 253-214, in the semifinals and Serra’s Preston Smith, 236-167, in the finals. He also helped Franklin Regional to a team title.

Have you ever rolled a 300 game?

Yes. It was at Lancaster last year.

What are your thoughts about winning the title?

It was exciting, especially helping the team win the team title as a senior.

Have you ever qualified for the high school states?

No. I competed in the USBC at Lancaster last year.

What are your goals?

I’d like to qualify for states. Regionals are March 1 and 2. The states are March 16 and 17.

Who got you started in bowling?

My dad, Ben. Bowling has been a big part of my family going back to my great, great grandfather.

Who is your favorite bowler?

Kris Prather. I like his style and the way he handles himself. I met him at a pro-am event, and he told me he’d never be famous. He’s done well.

Do you want to bowl in college?

Yes. I’d like to go to a college that has a good business degree. There are a few options. Robert Morris has that and bowling.

What’s the last movie you watched?

Nemo.’

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

I like Deep Creek Lake in Maryland. It’s a family spot.

Do you have a dream vacation spot?

I’d like to go to Europe.

Where is your go-to place after a game or practice, and what do you eat?

I like to go to Chipotle. I get a chicken bowl.

What is your favorite meal your mom makes?

I don’t know because she is such a great cook. I love her pasta fagioli.

What’s your favorite class in school?

Public speaking.

Q: How do you think the Pirates will finish?

They are a young team, and getting Oneil Cruz back will help the offense. I’m eager to see Paul Skenes pitch, and adding (Aroldis) Chapman will help.

If you were the Steelers general manager, who would you pick in the NFL Draft?

I’m hoping Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy falls to us.

Do the Penguins still have a shot at the playoffs?

They do if the power play comes around. They’ve been lousy this season.

What type of music do you like?

I like country music. Zach Bryan is my favorite musician.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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