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By Russ Green-Sports Editor
Four of the six Richmond wrestlers were in medal contention heading into the final day of the MSHSAA tournament in Columbia, and although three returned home with some hardware, Saturday turned into a disappointing day.
All three medal winners lost their final match of the day, and a fourth was disqualified which resulted in no medal and a loss of team points he accumulated during the tournament. The Spartans finished 17th in team points with 42 points – 41 more points than they totaled last year and also ended a string of 14 years with at least one state medalist.
Blair Oaks captured the Class 1 team title with 98 points to edge defending champion Whitfield by 2.5 points. Lawson took third place with 86 points, while Marceline claimed the final team trophy with 84.5 points.
Holden had the top MRVC East finish with a 12th-place total of 59.5 points, followed by Richmond.
Before Saturday’s session, Richmond coach Clint Minnick reflected on the improvement of his young Spartan squad.
“Our coaching staff has really helped them with things over the summer and getting the kids to believe what we’re doing in the room every single practice,” he said. “We have turned it on the last couple of weeks at district and here at state. To see them coming out and just working hard throughout the year and then getting rewarded for their hard work.”
One of those young wrestlers, freshman Braidn Ford, came home with the highest finish for the Spartans. Ford, who did not wrestle until this season, placed fourth in the 106-pound class and ends his first year with a 40-18 record.
“It’s probably a good thing that he’s still learning about wrestling because he listens to his coaches so well,” Minnick said. “In an earlier match this week, he did exactly what we told him to do and that resulted in a fall because of that. That’s rewarding.”
Ford lost his first match of the tournament by fall to Ronald Stewart of Maplewood-Richmond Heights in 3:01. He then bounced back victories in his next four matches to earn a chance to wrestle for third place. Ford won his next two by falls – in 2:25 over Solomon Tevis of Holden, and in 2:50 over Lawson’s Tyler Hachman.
His next win came as a result of a medical forfeit over Konner Shewmaker of Versailles before recording another fall in 4:15 over Maryville’s Cody Graven in the consolation semifinal. Ford’s streak came to an end in the third-place match when he lost by technical fall (20-3) to Cooper O’Conner of Plattsburg.