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 becoming Fort Osage’s first-ever girls wrestling state champion.
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 with Rachel Rellihan placing sixth at 160 pounds. The Indian girls finished 11th as a team with 39 points.
“We knew that this season had the chance to be a special one,” Barker said. “We’ve seen some growth and we definitely had some success.”
William Chrisman had its first girls state medalists in Kiara Boldridge and Mary-Mae McMillan. Boldridge, a freshman, placed second when she was pinned by returning state champion Lexi Cole of Kearney in the 235-pound finals.
Boldridge (23-5) reached the final by pinning her first two opponents and winning on a 5-4 tiebreaker in the semifinals. Cole, the defending 235 champion, pinned Boldridge in 1:57 to finish 27-1.
“Kiara is a great athlete,” Chrisman coach Riley Glasgow said. “We love having her around. She’s got three more years to try get this taken care of, and I think she’s got it in the bag next year.”
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.
The Bears had three state qualifiers, and two came home with medals.
“I think it turned out wonderful for the girls,” Glasgow said. “Bring three down here and get two medals? Hard to argue.”
Truman had its first state girls medalist when sophomore Ava Miller took fifth at 166. Miller appeared headed for defeat when she trailed Harmon Rust of Nixa 6-0 in the third period of the fifth-place match. But two near falls later, Miller had a 10-7 victory and a fifth-place medal.
“I wasn’t very worried.” Miller said. “I figured if I just kept pushing at it and going in aggressive, I could come back.”
Miller (33-5) won her first two matches before losing in the semifinals. A 3-2 loss in the fourth round of wrestlebacks dropped her into the fifth-place match. Scoring a first for the Patriots did ease some of her disappointment though.
“I didn't get the result I wanted, but I’m just glad that I’m able to make history for my school,” Miller said.
The Chrisman girls took 12th as a team with 38 points. Truman was 42nd with 13.