Jackson’s Makennah Craft already has a state wrestling championship.

Her next goal was to earn the title, national champion.

The Jackson sophomore inched close to that goal, finishing as the junior national runner-up in the 100-pound class in the women’s junior freestyle competition in Fargo, North Dakota last month.

“It shows I can compete with anyone in the nation at my weight,” Craft said. “I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

Craft definitely had quite a run.

She came into Fargo ranked #21 at 100 pounds and defeated an All-American and two national champions in the Junior division before reaching the championship match, where she fell in a competitive match, 9-4, to Sterling Dias of Las Vegas, Nevada, who is already committed to wrestle at the University of Iowa.

“Fargo is the biggest thing there is,” said Jackson head wrestling coach Brandon Oliver. “Everyone talks about being the best. You go to Fargo, and you hope to be able to just compete and wrestle in some good matches.

“So, for her to go there and finish second in the country says a lot. The fact she was so close to winning it all says how good she is and the effort she has put into the sport of wrestling this summer.”

In the Round of 16, she pinned 16U All-American Zoey Jewett, and then beat 16U national champions Katey Valdez, 12-2, and Rianne Murphy, 8-6, in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

“People think girls’ wrestling isn’t that big, but Makennah was in a 64-man bracket. That’s a lot of girls,” said Oliver. “Literally the best of the best comes to this tournament. Anybody, who is anybody shows up there.”

Craft began wrestling for Team Ohio after winning the state championship in freestyle during the Memorial Day weekend in May.

Now a veteran to the sport, as she prepares to begin her sophomore year at Jackson High School, Craft said wrestling nationally and winning a state championship match is somewhat comparable.

“Honestly, I think the biggest difference is the competition and atmosphere around you,” Craft stated. “The round one matches at the national level are comparable to a state championship match.”

She said the training to compete at this level takes a lot of time and dedication.

“Wrestling at this level means practicing multiple times a day,” said Craft. “You have to be willing to miss out on a lot of things that kids my age are doing.”

After the 2021-2022 season ended, Craft began wrestling shortly thereafter.

“Technically, girls’ wrestling and nationals begin in April,” said Oliver. “She took maybe two weeks off at the end of the season and she has been wrestling since.”

The ultimate goal for Craft is to be a four-time state champion and of course winning a national championship.

“It is so hard to win,” Oliver said. “We are just fortunate enough to bring home a second-place finish, but hopefully, she can win a national title in the next three years.”

Craft obviously credits Coach Oliver for helping her get to this point, as well as Jesse Long for taking the time to work with her before Fargo.

Since the Ohio High School Athletic Association sanctioned girls wrestling for the 2022-2023 school year, Jackson will have a girls’ team, according to Oliver.

“I know there are at least five or six girls interested right now,” said Oliver. “Jackson High School is working with me on presenting a power point with all the girls at Jackson.”

Craft should help with recruiting girls to the sport this season. Her advice to anyone interested in wrestling is to just go for it.

“It is honestly an amazing sport that many people overlook, but it is truly one of the most fun things you can learn and try.”

Craft should be a force to be reckoned with when the high school season begins.