Glendale High School's Mariana Carson was a 'pinning machine' at the OFSAA high school wrestling championships in Windsor, March 1-2.
In her second trip to the provincial championships, the Grade 10 wrestler lost her 44 kg opening match to Turner Fenton's Rachel Khoo 9-6.
"She had the girl on her back and actually pinned her when time ran out," said Glendale wrestling coach Lloyd Renken.
That meant Carson had to wrestle the rest of the way on the consolation side, but she still had a chance to medal.
"I said 'it's a long route back but you can do it,'" said Renken. "You just have to get ready for every match and she really did."
Carson pinned her next five opponents.
"It was really kind of fun to watch," Renken laughed. "She showed a little more maturity, she was very aggressive, technically she was very good, and she worked really hard. It was quite fun to watch."
Her run included wins over Rachel Callery (Holy Cross), Tania Sethi (Turner Fenton), Kassandra Young (Lourdes), Kendra Squire (Beal), and Khoo (Turner Fenton).
"Her fifth pin was the girl (Khoo) who beat her in the first round," Renken noted. "Mariana pinned her and didn't even get scored on. So that was fun, too."
Carson's next match was the No. 1 seed, Sarah Coburn (Denis Morris), who had lost in the A-side semifinals to Centre Wellington's Rylie George.
"Like with all the other ones, she was winning..." said Renken. "Then she got caught, and pinned."
Coburn went on to take the bronze medal, and Wellington's George won the gold. Carson wrestled Shannon Gouthro (Cameron Heights) in the fifth place match, and easily won.
"She beat the girl (Gouthro) 10-0 in something like 35 seconds."
A very good result at her second OFSAA, said Renken, noting Carson was 2-2 at OFSAA last year.
"It was a great tournament. It was really impressive, five consecutive pins. As a coach, it was awesome to watch. She just showed really good preparation before every match, she warmed up really, really well. Once she got up and got going, she never stopped.
"Every time you go to OFSAA, it adds to the experience. Last year Mariana won two, lost two, and this year I think she was a little bit more comfortable. In the beginning, particularly when you're in Grade 9, you're really awestruck by the enormity of it, the numbers, the facility, 10 mats... it can be a little bit intimidating
"So this year I think it was quite evident, she was a lot more comfortable and was ready to get the job done. Which she did."
Glendale had several other wrestling athletes who were prime candidates for OFSAA, including two who finished with bronze medals at WOSSAA. Only the top two qualified for OFSAA.
"I was expecting at least four," said Renken," and I thought on a good day, maybe we'd even get five."
Two days before WOSSAA, one of the Gemini wrestlers was diagnosed with a concussion.
"He (Andrew Leliveld) had a good chance of qualifying, for sure" said Renken, noting Leliveld had beat all but one in the area, and that was a close loss. "He definitely would have qualified."
Ben Harvey, a No. 1 seed going into WOSSAA, and OFSAA participant last year with Carson, was upset at WOSSAA.
"He (Harvey) easily won his second match, then lost a really close second match, so he ended up third."
The only way to 'challenge' the second qualifier was not having wrestled that person earlier in the competition.
"And he already did – that's who he lost to," said Renken, noting the Grade 11 Harvey will be a contender again next year.
"I had another wrestler, Cheyenne Nevado, a first-year wrestler in Grade 12, who had a really good season. She had never wrestled before, but was a really quick learner. Very aggressive, and did really well all season."
Nevado lost to the No. 1 seed at WOSSAA in her first match.
"I said 'you've got a whole new tournament now, you've just got to beat all the remaining opponents, then you challenge the second place girl."
Nevado did exactly that, and was winning the challenge match.
"With about 25 seconds left," said Renken, "it was 6-6, but in the end the girl was able to take Cheyenne down. She ended up third and wasn't able to go on."
Carson's ride through WOSSAA wasn't an easy one. In the final, she was winning 5-0 but lost by pin.
"The girl she was pinning was able to wiggle out, reversed and pinned her," said Renken. "It was disappointing, but she qualified for OFSAA."