Indians sophomore Haley Ward 'frustrated' despite title win over previously unbeaten opponent
Most athletes who are among the elite at their sport will have high expectations for themselves.
Fort Osage sophomore Haley Ward is one of them.
The 151-pounder had a stone-cold look on her face when she was walking to the locker room after her state championship match against Webster Groves senior Hannah Jansen. At first glance, it might appear that Ward lost the match judging by her facial expression.
However, it was the exact opposite.
Ward, who is ranked No. 1 in her weight division according to the MissouriWrestling.com poll, controlled her match against the previously unbeaten Jansen, ranked No. 2, from start to finish and earned a 6-2 decision, winning her second individual state championship in as many years Tuesday at Cable Dahmer Arena.
So what was Ward upset about after winning another state title?
“It was all right. I felt like I could do better than that,” said Ward, who admitted she was disappointed that she didn’t get a pin. “But it’s OK. There will be more matches to come.”
Fort Osage girls head coach Derick Barker said Ward not getting a pin was nothing to be ashamed of.
“That Jansen girl is a returning state champ,” he said. “I understand why she’s frustrated. She had a goal to get a pin and fell short of it. But she wrestled a good match and did what she needed to do to cap off No. 2.”
That’s just the high expectations of an athlete who has dominated her sport for years, even before high school. The sophomore pinned No. 5-ranked Addie Sader in the quarterfinals and got another one in the semifinals against Willard’s Lexi Adams. She then finished off her day by putting on a clinic from the top position in the finals.
“I was tired,” Ward admitted. “I was controlling top pretty good. I didn’t get the pin, but that’s OK.”
Ward said her only loss earlier in the year to Park Hill South’s Maddie Kubicki, the state champion at 143, fueled her to dominate the rest of the season. Ward finished with a 33-1 record.
“I needed a loss to keep working toward my goals,” Ward said.
Added Barker: “We took a loss to another state champ earlier in the year, and I have never seen her more driven in my life. That’s just what champions do. They regroup and work hard.”
Grain Valley freshman Sevreign “Sevi” Aumua, ranked No. 3, was in the same bracket as Ward but didn’t get an opportunity to face her. The No. 3-ranked Eagle finished third after she was pinned by Jansen in the semifinals. She bounced back to pin Adams in 1:46 in the third-place bout and earn an all-state honor.
“The tournament was really fun, but it was crappy at first because I didn’t have my team to support me,” Aumua said. “I didn’t have a warmup partner, but I did warm up with the coaches. It was a strange appearance, but a good one.
“I had to look past the loss and get my mind back on track (for the third-place match). I just have to learn from that loss and get better.”
The freshman was at a disadvantage in the semifinal. She rolled her ankle midway through the match and had to wrestle with a slight limp. Although she fell in the semifinals, Aumua fought through the injury to take third.
“I am so freaking proud of her,” Grain Valley coach Jeff Bowman said. “She came in as a freshman and competed against older girls and got to (the semifinals). That was a really funky match and we ended up getting our ankle rolled.
“She ended her season with a win and we stressed that with her. She did everything we asked of her. She gritted her teeth and went right through it.”
William Chrisman sophomore Kiara Boldridge (235 pounds), like Aumua, also took third after taking second last year. She came into this year’s tournament ranked No. 2 and got a pin in 26 seconds in her quarterfinal match.
Boldridge then ran into Tipton senior Kyla Cornine, ranked No. 3, in the semifinals and was pinned in 1:59. She rebounded, however, pinning Park Hills Central’s Alayna Ray in 1:30 to claim her final match and earn her second straight all-state honor.
“I feel like I could have done better in my semifinals match,” Boldridge said. “But everything happens for a reason and that girl was really tough to beat.
“Last year I lost four matches (for the season) and this year I lost one, so I feel like I am improving.”
Blue Springs South sophomore Gabby Hampton (107) was one of two other Eastern Jackson County wrestlers to compete at state. She finished the tournament 0-2 and ended the season with a 20-10 record.
Fort Osage’s Lauren Hahne (137), a two-time state qualifier, bowed out with an 0-2 mark and finished 23-7 overall.