Moore County Wrestling’s Shiloh Bryan heads to state on Thursday

Moore County Wrestling's Shiloh Bryan and her coaches and a teammate
Pictured (from left to right) are Moore County Wrestling Head Coach Kevin Pearson, Shiloh Bryan, teammate Lavenia Chase, and Assistant Coach Michelle Pearson. (Photo Provided)

Ask Moore County Wrestling’s Shiloh Bryan and she will be the first to tell you that she’s a very competitive person. That competitive nature helped the local freshman find her way to Franklin on Thursday to wrestle in the TSSAA State Championship for girls’ wrestling in the 185 weight class. It’s her first year on the team and her first year to make it all the way to state.

Shiloh says watching her older brother wrestle in middle school inspired her to try the sport. Her mom, Cory, says Shiloh also grew up watching her grandpa, uncles, and cousins wrestle as well. It’s familiar ground.

Shiloh and her family including parents Cory and Jared Bryan and brothers Emery, Griffin, Ramsey, and Benson all moved from Idaho to Lynchburg last year. Shiloh also has an 18 year-old sister named Gracie and a 20 year-old brother named Harlan. Her family lives near Main Street in Lynchburg.

Girls wrestle too

Girls high school wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the US. The number of female participants increases every year. As of 2018, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recognized girls wrestling as an official high school sport. Over 27 states have sanctioned it but not all states offer both boys’ and girls’ wrestling. Shiloh didn’t wrestle back in Idaho because there was no girls’ only team.

“My brother wrestled in sixth grade and I remember seeing a girl wrestle at a match and thinking, I want to do that,” Shiloh says. “When I came here and found out there was a girls’ only wrestling team, I got really excited.”

She says folks often seem surprised when they find out she’s in high school and she wrestles but she’s not the only one. There are actually three other local students on the team in addition to Shiloh: sophomore DeShea Lentz, freshman Lavenia Chase, and eighth grader Jaydon “Pee Wee” White.

She says her most memorable match so far was her very first because the novelty and adrenalin collided into a bit of instant success.

“I was so nervous,” Shiloh says. “I guess it just built up and when I got on the mat to wrestle, I pinned her quickly.”

This is my mat. I’m going to win.

In addition to carrying the full academic schedule of a typical ninth grade student, Shiloh also plays tuba in the Moore County High School Band of Spirit. She says she balances her academics with her extracurriculars by doing most of her homework during study halls or in her hour of free time right before practice.

“She’s a straight A student,” Shiloh’s mom Cory says. “We have a rule in our family that if your grades drop below a B, you can’t do sports, so there’s a little motivation there.”

In addition to matches, Shiloh practices drills and moves several times a week with her team and Head Coach Kevin Pearson. She also maintains a rigorous training schedule including lots of running for endurance. Shiloh says the physical parts of wrestling have given her mental toughness and you can hear that toughness in her voice when she talks about actually competing.

“I always say to myself: This is my mat. I’m going to win.”

Wrestling requires discipline and confidence

Girls wrestling uses the same weight classes and rules as boys wrestling, with some minor modifications for safety and fairness. It’s also an individual sport that doesn’t rely on team dynamics for motivation. Shiloh says boys’ wrestling and girls’ wrestling is basically the same concept.

“You have to be faster and stronger than the person in front of you to win,” she says “It’s one of those sports, where if you don’t do well it’s all on you. The mindset I have personally is : I need to win. I try to keep my mind straight and focused.”

Wrestling is also a sport that requires a lot of discipline, something Shiloh says serves every other part of her life.

“I’m more disciplined in school life, family life, and academics. That’s led to a more balanced life, which allows me to do more things,” Shiloh says.

Girls high school wrestling provides a unique opportunity for female athletes to develop physical fitness, mental toughness, and self-confidence, and can also lead to college scholarships and other opportunities. There are also opportunities to compete nationally and internationally in events like the Olympics. For now, Shiloh says she’s focused on her high school career and being a good teammate.

“For my high school career, I definitely want to win state,” she says. “That’s the next goal.”

Shiloh will wrestle in the 2023 TSSAA Division 1 Girls Individual Wrestling Championships beginning on Thursday at 1 p.m. They take place at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park in Franklin. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}

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