COLUMBIA, Mo – When Haley Ward woke up Saturday morning, she was hardly the picture of perfect health. Not with a raw throat and other aches and pains.
“I felt like I had the flu, so I’ve been sick for a while,” Ward said. “But I’m all right.”
The sore throat turned out to be strep throat. But even as lousy as Ward felt that morning, nothing was going to keep her from Mizzou Arena and a shot at a state wrestling championship.
Strep throat proved no match for Ward, just like the rest of the field in the girls 130-pound weight class in the state wrestling tournament. Ward capped her run through the bracket and a 36-0 season by pinning Kaylie Dow of Plattsburg in the final.
Ward certainly didn’t look under the weather in her short time on the center mat. She scored a quick takedown and had Dow on her back in just 1 minute and 25 seconds.
“I’ve wrestled her a few times so I knew what to do,” Ward said. “Me and my coach were working on a fake snapdown to a turn,” which Ward was able to execute.
Fort Osage girls coach Derrick Barker knew Ward was ready too. Even when she was under the weather.
“We came here Wednesday night and she was feeling a little sick and that makes you a little nervous,” Barker said. “But she’s the ultimate competitor and we knew this wasn’t going to slow her down.”
Ward’s title capped a successful season for Fort Osage’s girls, who had two wrestlers earn all-state honors. The Indians’ Rachel Relihan placed sixth at 160 pounds. The Indian girls finished 11th as a team with 39 points.
When Blue Springs junior Korbin Shepherd and Staley’s Kyhler Brewer last met, Brewer retired with an ankle injury.
When the two met again in the Class 4 126 final, they tangled to a near-stalemate.
Tied 1-1 after three rounds, the match ended with Brewer grabbing Shepherd’s leg for a takedown for a 3-1 sudden-death victory.
Brewer’s takedown came so quickly that Shepherd wasn’t sure what happened in the final seconds. He wasn’t sure it was a takedown either.
“We got into a little scramble, and I didn’t think it was (a takedown) but the refs called it (a takedown) and that was the match,” Shepherd said. “I can’t put it in the refs’ hands. I have to take care of business and just come back stronger.
Shepherd, who won the Class 4 120 title last season, finished his junior year 42-2.
Shepherd was one of two Wildcats to make it to the final day. Cayden Dotson advanced through the consolation bracket to the Class 4 120-pound final, where he suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss on tiebreakers to Jalin Reese of Lafayette-Wildwood.
Blue Springs finished 14th in the Class team standings with 39.5 points. Lee’s Summit North tied for 31st at 14 and Fort Osage was 35th with 12.
William Chrisman had its first-ever girls state medalists in Kiara Boldridge and Mary-Mae McMillan. Boldridge, a freshman, placed second in 235 when she was pinned by returning state champion Lexi Cole of Kearney in the finals.
Well before Boldridge wrestled her title match, McMillan became Chrisman’s first girls medalist when she finished fifth at 187 pounds. McMillan held on for a 4-3 victory over KayLyn Munn of Platte County in the fifth-place match.
Ava Miller of Truman appeared headed to defeat when she trailed Harmon Rust of Nixa 6-0 in the third period of the girls 166-pound fifth-place match. But two near falls later, Miller had a 10-7 victory and a fifth-place medal.
The Chrisman girls took 12th as a team with 38 points. Truman was 42nd with 13.
Grain Valley’s boys had five wrestlers battle back through the Class 3 consolation bracket to place. Hunter Newsom took third place at 182 pounds, finishing with a dominating 9-0 decision over Chris Butts of Windsor-Imperial in the final.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Newsom said. “I wanted to be in the championship taking first, but it didn’t happen. It ended on a high note but still there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Heavyweight Donovan McBride took fourth, falling 3-2 on a ultimate tiebreaker to Micah Lieberman of Carl Junction. Tied 1-1 after three periods, the two exchanged escapes in overtime before McBride was penalized a point for clasping in the final overtime period.
Three Eagles – Dru Azcona (113), Trent Starr (126) and Drake Tipton (170) – won their fifth-place matches. Starr 41-10, who sat out last season after placing second as a sophomore, ended his high-school career by pinning Kyle Crawford of Farmington.
Grain Valley finished seventh as a team with 77 points. William Chrisman tied for 37th with eight points and Van Horn tied for 44th with three.
Oak Grove had four fourth-place finishers in Class 2: Kaden Scarborough (113), Anthony Erickson (145), Zander Brinegar (195) and heavyweight Caleb Groff. Oak Grove finished seventh as a team with 75 points.