SOUTHERN PINES — Of the 12 Richmond Senior wrestlers who competed in regionals this past Saturday, only three qualified for states.
Jayshaun Jasper, Antoine Shaw and Houston Hayden are the three Raiders who will compete in the State tournament — which begins Thursday at Greensboro Coliseum. Jasper (145) and Hayden (285) placed third in their respective weight classes, while Shaw (220) came in fourth.
In order to qualify for the state tournament, wrestlers need to finish regionals as one of the top four wrestlers in their weight class.
“Overall with all injuries and senior wrestlers that did not complete the season, I felt the guys came together and did a great job regionals,” coach Earl Nicholson said. “There is no doubt that Raider wrestling is on the map now.”
Jasper scored 14 points for Richmond, as he won his first two matches before falling to Daniel Peede (Pine Forest) in the semifinal match. The senior would answer his only loss, however, with a tie-breaking win over Connor Wrought (New Bern) and a sudden victory over Austin Nalley (Laney) in the third-place match.
Shaw won three of his five matches on the day and tallied 12 points. He won by pin in round one, a major decision in the quarterfinal and a 10-5 decision in the consolation semifinal. Shaw’s two losses, which were close decisions, came in the semifinal and the third-place match.
Hayden pinned five of his six opponents Saturday, picking up a team-high 22 points at regionals. The heavyweight won by fall over David Snead (Pine Forest) in his first matchup, but lost a 9-7 decision to Tray Regan (Lumberton) in the quarterfinal. Hayden would end his day by winning four straight, pinning Cody Altenburg (Overhills), Matthew Scott (Laney), Rayshaun Baker (Purnell Swett) and Tanner Kreitlow (Pinecrest) in order to take third place.
Richmond, which placed eighth out of 21 teams, finished with a total of 80 points.
To go along with the 48 points from the three state qualifiers, both Bryan Marsh and Steven Morales each scored eight points. Kemoni Styles recorded seven points, Skylar Standridge scored five and Tommy Shelton scored four in order to round out the Richmond wrestlers who contributed to the team’s final score.
Marsh came up one match short of qualifying in the 138-pound weight class following a loss to Nick White (Jack Britt). Shelton, who Nicholson believed had a great chance at making states, suffered an injury in his quarterfinal matchup while leading 5-3 and was unable to continue in the tournament.
“Every team we competed against weekend was concerned about our primary pinning combination — the crossface cradle. Which means that our guys are executing and getting results,” Nicholson said. “We’re doing something right in Richmond County, as we are one of the few teams at regionals that do not have middle school wrestling and we are still able to remain competitive.”
Nicholson says he will now turn his focus to getting Jasper, Shaw and Hayden prepared for Thursday
“It’s time to get to work for the state tournament,” he added. “We will spend the next two days working on conditioning and the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.