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Bremerton High's Richardson wins state title
Lauren Richardson is going out on top.
The Bremerton High School senior wrestler bested rival Kiana Witt of Kingston High School at the Tacoma Dome Feb. 19 for the girls 112-pound state title at Mat Classic XXIII. Richardson took the state championship with a 6-3 victory.
It would be their first and last time competing against each other at state, and it was Richardson who claimed gold for the second time in her four-year career with the Knights. The two have wrestled each other since they competed for clubs at the age of 7.
Richardson won a state title her freshman year, becoming the first female title-holder in school history.
“When I won it last time, it was great, but now that I’m a senior, it means so much more to me,” Richardson said. “To finish my high school career on top of the podium is incredible. I can just leave it all here at the school and everybody will know me as a state champion.”
Though Witt defeated Richardson twice during the regular season, including a 5-3 victory in the sub-regional tournament, it was Richardson who set the pace for their final match. Richardson said the biggest difference between the previous matches and the state tournament was her attitude.
“The biggest thing that changed was my mental aspect,” she added. “I knew I was the better wrestler and I just needed to do it. When we got to state, I was mentally prepared for it all.”
The Bremerton standout stayed in control until the third round, when Witt gave a final push in the match. Witt’s final effort would not be enough, scoring three points.
“It sucks to lose,” Witt said after the match, adding there were no hard feelings.
The rivalry match came after multiple pins and an injury defeat. Richardson pinned Mary Gutierrez of Mabton High School in 1:43; won by injury defeat against Aika Mitchell of Lakeside High School and defeated Bianca Arizpe of Federal Way High School, 9-6.
Bremerton head coach Jeff Barton said Wednesday that he couldn’t be more proud of Richardson, the only senior on this year’s team. When she won the state title, Barton and Richardson were overcome by tears.
“It was pretty emotional,” Barton said. “She had been working hard and I’m so proud of her accomplishments and how she is as a person. She was a very good leader on our team this season, teaching our freshmen and sophomores for next season.”
Richardson will attend Menlo College in Atherton, Calif. next fall on a $17,000 academic scholarship. She plans to earn a degree in sports management.
Other state champions include Olympic High School’s Cody Yeik, who won gold at the Mat Classic for the first time. Yeik won the 125-pound state title. Klahowya Secondary School’s Nehemiah Salo defeated teammate Jeff Haga in the 171-pound weight class to win gold.
Kipp Robertson contributed to this report.