Shelby Moore had quite a weekend.
The talented wrestler – a 15-year-old sophomore at White River High School – traveled to the Midwest and captured not one, not two, but three national championships in less than 48 hours of competition.
It all occurred in Coralville, Iowa, just a short distance south of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is the hotbed of American wrestling.
Competition took place March 27-28 under the auspices of USA Wrestling.
Moore’s busy weekend began on Day 1 with an event that was quickly deemed the High School National Recruiting Showcase, due to the outstanding resumes posted by grapplers who converged upon Iowa from all corners of the nation.
It was an “open” competition, meaning there were no specific age brackets. Competing at 122 pounds, Moore dispatched the competition to take the championship.
The following morning, she was entered into the U16 division of the USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle National Championships. Competing against girls her own age, she whipped the field to garner a second national title. An additional honor came when Moore was named the outstanding wrestler in the U16 competition.
Then came the decision to step up a class and enter the U18 tourney where Moore would be squaring off against girls several years older.
That decision proved positive, as Moore advance through the bracket before facing California’s Gianna Dibenedetto in the finals. Winning by a 7-0 decision, Moore strolled away with a third national title.
That added up to 15 matches over the stretch of a long, exhausting weekend.
It’s safe to say that wrestling is in Moore’s blood, having grown up in a family that had dedicated considerable time and energy to the sport. Moore’s brother Nathan is five years older and her mother recalls hauling a young Shelby to his tournaments.
It might be a bit of a stretch, but only a bit, when Moore says she has “spent every weekend of my life at a wrestling tournament.”
Nathan has also gained a level of fame in the sport. He was a three-time state champion at White River and is now part of the program at NCAA Division I Northern Colorado University.
While the ongoing pandemic wiped away the traditional high school season (it’s a winter sport deemed “high risk” for transmission of the virus) the Moore family’s wrestling lifestyle picked up steam.
In recent months, it has been either mom or dad accompanying Shelby to states that opened up and allowed wrestling. Since COVID altered the sporting landscape, she has competed in three times in Utah, once in Idaho and traveled twice to Arizona during a three-week span.
One of those road trips allowed Moore to compete in Coralville. The High School Showcase had some demanding standards, allowing only wrestlers with a proven record of success. Because Washington’s winter season was wiped away, Moore headed to Arizona’s qualifying tournament; by winning there, she earned a slot in Iowa’s national tournament.
Despite the lofty achievements, Moore knows there’s more work to be done.
“We get up every day to grind and get better,” she said, shortly after returning from nationals and moments before departing for another training session with Takedown Express. That’s the club she represents in tournament competition and it’s a familiar group heavy on White River girls and coaches.
She’s either working on mat moves or strength training at least five days a week, sometimes six.
All that work, Moore hopes, will allow her to stay prominent in the wrestling world for years to come. In this wacky, COVID-dominated school year, wrestling will begin next month in the high school ranks and Moore will anchor the Hornets. When her high school career is finished, Moore anticipates competing at the collegiate level.
But before those things happen, there’s the matter of the Cadet World Team. Moore is gunning for a spot on the U.S. team, which would bring international travel and competition – the championships are in Hungary this year. She was a finalist a year ago in the U14 competition and will be aiming for a U16 title during the team trials in Texas in early May.
The ultimate goal? Moore is striving to be good enough to eventually make the U.S. Olympic Team. Three championships during a single late-March weekend is a good start.