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South’s Samantha Miller wins national honor

File Photo Parkersburg South’s Samantha Miller grapples with an opponent during a high school wrestling match last season. Miller won the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award.

PARKERSBURG — Samantha Miller stood so tied up in her wrestling career the past few seasons to the point she had no idea the National Wrestling Hall of Fame awarded the title of most outstanding high school senior grappler to one final-year participant from 46 different states featuring high school girls wrestling.

Her work winning the 106-pound spot on the varsity team on a understandably male dominated Parkersburg South squad and advancing to within one win of placing at the Class AAA state meet in 2019 coupled with her determination to wrestle in college and then fighting her way back onto the Patriot varsity team again this past season demanded much of her time.

On top of this, the preparation for her run to the state final in the inaugural W.Va. girls state wrestling tournament further drained her down time.

Along this journey there also were numerous successes on the national level alongside consistent stand out efforts in the classroom which helped her become a member of the NCAA Division I Presbyterian women’s wrestling team just a few months ago.

Now, however, she certainly knows about the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award.

After Patriot parent Tim Amos shared all of her final year accomplishments with Flo Wrestling’s Dan Lobdell, the decision came back in her favor. One of the state’s best ambassadors for the sport now sees her name honored among a select few individuals after the news was released Tuesday afternoon.

“I think it is really cool to have won this,” said Miller. “It is a pretty big deal. It is just great to represent the state of West Virginia.”

“I thought of Samantha right off the bat,” said Amos. “No one else has come close to what Samantha has done on the national level.”

To Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith, his wrestler’s win also speaks to her willingness and eagerness to never be treated differently than the boys and perform to the best of her ability on the mat.

“Her tenacity never wavers and she isn’t afraid to scrap with the boys, obviously from here on out she will be competing against girls, but she always tried to win and never backed down and as a program we are proud of her,” said Smith.

Even after she dropped several close wrestle-offs to freshmen teammates and eventual 106-pound state champion Brady Roberts that moved her to the blue team, her focus never wavered.

“I took it as a learning year for college,” she said.

“Coaches asked me about her all the time and were really impressed with her and that is cool because while we have had girl wrestlers before none of them are like her. She strives to be not just a girl wrestler but a real wrestler and that is what brought her to this moment,” said Smith. “She continues to do what she loves and I am glad she continued to want to wrestle because it has paid off for her.”

The award, named after the four-time World Champion and women’s wrestling pioneer, recognizes and celebrates the nation’s most outstanding high school senior female wrestlers for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship, and community service.

Winners are evaluated and selected on the basis of three criteria: success and standout performances and sportsmanship in wrestling; review of GPA and class rank, academic honors and distinctions; and participation in activities that demonstrate commitment to character and community.

Miller now enters the regional award drawing, to be announced May 19, then if she wins again she would move on to the national competition where the winner will be announced May 26.

Amos and her both believe the chances are high for her to take home a regional honor. Several other state winners in the same group as West Virginia fell victim to her during girls events throughout the non-academic season.

“There are some really good girls and a bunch of them are in my weight class,” said Miller.

Patriot teammate and Wisconsin commit Braxton Amos joined her Thursday after he took home the Hall’s male honor in the Dave Shultz High School Excellence Award. Chances remain just as high Amos advances to the regional competition as well as the national honor. As he finished the top ranked wrestler in the class of 2020 according to Flowrestling.com and Intermat.com, one of the biggest honors to be received in the sport could be just weeks away.

The national awards announcement is planned for May 28.

Conact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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