Column: Linden Elementary girl is a wrestler through and through

Every so often, a child discovers something they like, and they end up being really good at it.

Four years ago, Aubriella Hollandsworth, a 9-year-old Linden Elementary student, was introduced by her dad, Daniel, to the world of wrestling. She enjoyed it at first, and now, with a couple hundred matches under her belt and a national ranking in four years, loves the sport.

“It’s a really fun sport because I like to pin people,” she said. “I like to win.”

That’s what her wrestling coach, Ken Meridieth, of GGB Wrestling in Price Hill, calls the “wrestling mentality.” Not only does she not like to lose, she won’t tolerate it, he said.

The girl is all business on the mat, whether in a match or during practice. She’s racked up an impressive record, competing in more than 100 matches in each of the past two years, winning roughly 85% of the time, and around half of her wins are pins.

That dedication earned Aubriella “Tiger” Hollandsworth a first-team national ranking in 2023 Girls World All-Star Team presented by World of Wrestling and Wrestling USA Magazine based on their performances in the country’s biggest three events: The Kickoff Classic, Tulsa Nationals, and the Reno World Championships. She won the Reno tournament.

Tiger ― she likes that nickname she earned from her wrestling gym ― was the top 9 and under female wrestler in the 50-pound weight class this past season, and there were only 32 wrestlers named first-team.

Dan Hollandsworth, a former high school wrestler, tried to get his son, Jakob, to try wrestling, but he was more of a soccer and basketball player. His youngest, Brynlee, also isn’t big into wrestling, preferring cheer.

Aubriella told her dad she would “give it a try” when she was 5 years old, wrestling locally at a seasonal youth wrestling club in Hamilton. Dan said she did a “decent job” and sought out a more competitive program.

They went to an elite wrestling program called Prodigy Wrestling Academy in Franklin, and she did well, finishing second at the state youth tournament. Before starting her third year, they discovered GGB Wrestling in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhood. Aubriella learned faster at GGB, Dan said, because of their teaching and training style.

“She really grew once she started going to GGB,” he said. In her first year with the club in 2022, Aubriella was ranked No. 2 by the World of Wrestling and Wrestling USA Magazine.

At practices, parents Dan and Jennifer Hollandsworth watch her get better with each multi-hour session, which is evident not just by the fact she’s the best in her division and weight in the nation. Many of those wins include defeating boys in the boy divisions of tournaments, and placing in a few.

She’s a wrestler through and through.

Girls in wrestling has grown in popularity over the years. Today, there are nearly 1,000 girls participating in wrestling in Ohio, which became a sanctioned Ohio High School Athletic Association girls sport in 2022, some two years after the first girls’ state wrestling tournament.

Meridieth saw Aubriella’s raw talent, saying she needed a system right for her, “and she just took off with it.”

“She had everything she needed,” Meridieth said of her aggression on the mat and wrestling instincts. “She’s one of the top kids in here, and she’s one of the top kids in the country right now in her division, and that’s the second time she’s done that. That’s very impressive.”

World of Wrestling is the premier ranking system among youth and junior high, and some high school, wrestlers, and Meridieth said, “If you’re ranked in that, you’re doing something right.”

The kid’s definitely doing something right.

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