INDIANA: Today was the final day of the 2023 Keystone State Championships at IUP's Kovalchick Convention & Athletic Complex in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and one very accomplished area wrestler came out on top.
Broadcast on FloWrestling (Subscription Required), 9-year-old phenom Marley Dixon of DuBois won the 8 & Under final in the 55 lb. weight class by defeating her Valley opponent, Danika Clemons. It was one year ago that Marley settled for second in the final and she set out to improve upon that. She has now accomplished exactly that.
Prior to the finale with Clemons, she defeated both Piper Rush (Trinity) and Reagan Brown (Connellsville) in the quarters and semis respectively. While the top eight wrestlers placed, only one could be the winner and, today, it was Miss Dixon on top with a "1" beneath her feet. She was awarded the gold medal seen in the picture (above) as well as a banner and a custom, Keystone Champion singlet.
Not done yet, Marley qualified in February and will, next week, compete for the PJW State Championships in Pittsburgh at the Petersen Events Center. In last year's PJW tournament, Marley finished third.
Mat Hog Wrestling & Conditioning in Punxsutawney is the club she belongs to and trains at and they are very proud of her showing today and are optimistic about her chances in the week upcoming to potentially add to her ever-growing trophy case. Adam Brink, the owner, had this to say: "Marley is a very passionate little girl. She practices very hard. I've known Marley since the club started almost three years ago. She competes year-round and trains 3-4 nights a week on average."
We were also able to pry a quote from the young lady herself: "I worked really hard for this and I knew if I kept working hard, going to practice, and not letting myself get too nervous that I could do it. I had fun today and was excited to wrestle on the big stage and I didn't let it make me nervous. At the beginning of this school year, we had to make goals that we wanted to accomplish by the end of this year. I said I wanted to be a state champ in wrestling. Now I am. I'm so happy I did it."
Marley's parents, Samantha Harris and Brandon Dixon (each pictured with their multi-talented daughter above) are very proud of their DuBois Central Catholic third grader too (as one might suspect). Samantha let on that while Marley now prefers wrestling above all, she has had a sports career that has historically included the martial art of jiu-jitsu, softball, gymnastics, and swimming. Ultimately, however, and for the foreseeable future, her focus is on her father's sport of choice, wrestling. On his little girl's accomplishment, Brandon said, "Ever since Marley was very little, I hoped she would love the sport as much as I always have. I knew girls' wrestling was taking off and I thought it would be awesome if my daughter was a part of that. It came naturally to her. Since she first started walking, we would wrestle around in the living room and I would show her little things here and there. Now she is learning how to be a champ from her many awesome coaches at Mat Hog, and when we can take her, Young Guns Wrestling Club (Ebensburg, PA with Coach Jody Strittmatter) too. I think if she keeps it up, the sky is the limit. I couldn’t be prouder of my little girl."
Phil Esposito, DuBois Central Catholic Athletic Director, on Marley, said, “DCC congratulates our very own Marley Dixon on being the 8 & Under State Champion in her weight class. This is a prestigious accomplishment in youth wrestling and we hope she continues her success and also helps grow the sport of wrestling here.”
DuBoisLIVE is likewise proud of her accomplishments and we promise to bring you the scoop from Pittsburgh next weekend as to how she fared. We wish her the best of luck in her quest to improve upon her third-place showing a year ago. Win or lose, however, she is now and forever a state champion. We hope to someday write about her trip to the Olympics (a future goal we are told Marley has).
We invite you to send her your words of encouragement in the comment section below (Requires Facebook Account). In the event you don't immediately see the comment feature, try refreshing your web browser.