CLEVELAND — When season 26 of The Bachelor started on Monday night, there were three Ohio women vying for the heart of Clayton Echard, but by the end of the show there were only two left standing.
Both Shanae Ankney, 29, of Sycamore, and recent Ohio University graduate Rachel Recchia, 25, accepted roses from this season's leading man, while Samantha Jeffries, 26, who is originally from Cincinnati, said goodbye to Clayton, 28, not long after a memorable entrance where she was rolled out in a hot tub.
Samantha, an occupational therapist, was one of nine ladies who left the Bachelor Mansion on night one of Clayton's journey for love, leaving 22 hopeful women in the running to win his heart.
From the looks of things and what we know about seasons past, it's possible Shanae may be at the center of the more dramatic moments along Clayton's journey.
Before any of the other ladies, Bachelor fans were introduced to Shanae right out of the gate, in a video where she shows off her one-stoplight hometown with its population of 840 people.
"Everyone knows everyone," Shanae says on camera. "The dating pool is very small."
In an effort to grab Clayton's attention, Shanae pulls up for their first meeting in a big, black pickup truck, knocking the Power Wheels car that the previous woman had rolled up in out of the way with her arrival.
"Oh, she's not gonna crush it, is she?" Clayton asked as she bulldozed onto the scene, and when she did smash right into it, he laughed and said, "Okay!" while the girls inside watching said, "We have a savage, is what we have."
Clayton stepped up to help her out of the jacked up truck, and tells Shanae, "You're a phenomenal driver."
Shanae uses her first moments with Clayton to tell him, "I'm from a small town, so obviously I had to go big," to which he replies, "Yes, that was quite the entrance."
The ladies who witnessed the "wreck" seemed to be wary of Shanae, and a preview clip for upcoming episodes shows her in a confrontation with at least one other woman, saying, “Keep my name out of your m************ mouth,” before storming off and tossing what looks to be a plastic trophy into a bush.
We first meet Rachel, a pilot who is currently living in Florida, in a clip from her in Athens, talking about her being in flight school for six years. "I've been so focused on getting to where I am," she says on camera. "Now I would just really like to find someone and get engaged."
Rachel admits that she doesn't know a lot about Clayton just yet, but says that she likes that "he has really nice teeth," and that he is "very, very good-looking."
She joked about first-night jitters, saying, "I think the first night is definitely going to have turbulence. I'm very confident with landing the plane, but getting out of the limo for the first time, it's definitely going to have way more nerves, for sure."
When that moment comes, Rachel makes a big impression by bringing in another woman, named Holly.
Holly, a beautiful older woman in a stunning gown with a trendy, silver bob, served as Rachel's "wing woman" to help make her introduction sail smoothly.
Clayton seemed into the creative approach, smiling widely and laughing as he said, "that one threw me for a loop."
Rachel's biography on the Bachelor National website describes her as "a fearless frequent flyer looking for a man who will travel the world with her."
"As a hopeless romantic, Rachel is looking for someone who is as playful, passionate and spontaneous as she is," the biography continues. "He should be nurturing, empathetic and MUST be respectful in all facets of life – to her, to family, and especially to waiters. In the end, Rachel wants to find crazy, insane love that makes sense to no one else but her and her soul mate."
If it turns out that Rachel and Shanae are among the final ladies hoping for a future with Clayton, things could get heated among our Ohio women.
In the montage introducing us to Shanae, which appeared to include snippets from her casting submission video, Shanae called Clayton a "ten" and talked about how "hot" it is that he stands 6-foot-4-inches tall.
"Clayton, I hope you're as sweet as this donut, because I'm gonna eat you up," Shanae says, while walking through a mostly-empty parking lot, wearing workout gear and snacking on a pastry.
The clip ends with her saying: "I'm very competitive at getting what I want. Whether it's a man or a card game, [if] I want it, I'm gonna get it. Watch out ladies. Shanae is coming in hot."
Shanae's biography on the Bachelor Nation website describes her a "small-town girl with a HUGE personality." In her own words, Shanae calls herself "faithful, patient and lovable," and says that she is looking for "a man who can keep up with her in all facets of life."
What does Shanae want in her partner? "She is looking for a man with confidence that won’t waste time playing games. She also values her independence, so while Shanae wants to build a life with someone, she also wants someone who encourages her to achieve the goals she has set for herself. Above all, Shanae wants to be able to be herself with a man who will honor and cherish her for the gem that she is."
The recruiter claims that she loves Christmas so much that she leaves here tree up all year long, is obsessed with zoos, and "is not interested in dating a man who performs magic."
Follow along on Shanae's and Rachel's journeys for love, with a recap here every Tuesday following the Monday night airing of The Bachelor on ABC.