Nicholas Solter capped a big junior season with a second-place showing at the MSHSAA wrestling championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
Competing at 126 pounds in the Class 3 ranks, Solter (48-4) won his first three matches to reach the finals, where he lost Saturday to Hannibal’s Tyler Janes (33-1) by technical fall, 15-0.
“I’ll be happy with it later down the road. Going into the match, I thought I had a better shot than how it went. I knew it was going to be tough. It was hard,” Solter said. “Up until the finals, I felt like I wrestled really good. In the finals, it is what it is. It happens sometimes.”
According to Washington Head Wrestling Coach Josh Ohm, Solter became the third wrestler in the school’s history to reach the state championship match, and the first since Jeremy Belsher took second at 145 pounds in 2010.
The Blue Jays still are looking for their first state wrestling title.
“Nicholas has put in the time and done things right to get to where he is,” Ohm said. “I really think this is just the beginning of a lot of bigger and better things from him.”
Solter’s signature win of the state meet came in the semifinals, where he won a 6-3 decision over Neosho’s Kyler Rea (51-5), who took third at 106 pounds last season.
“Many people may have thought his semifinal match was a big upset, but to Nicholas, it was just another match,” Ohm said.
“I watched video of him the night before. When I got to the match, I felt the confidence level there that I couldn’t lose and I was going to make it to the finals,” Solter said. “He scored that first takedown, but I just kept myself calm. In the second period when he tried to make his move, I knew it was coming and just slid into my move.”
Solter opened the tournament with a technical fall win over Webb City’s Austin Thomas, 18-3. He won a 5-4 decision over McCluer’s Kamerun Williams in the quarterfinals.
It was Solter’s first career state medal in three trips to Columbia.
“We’re very proud and happy for Nicholas to become a state runner-up for his first time reaching the podium,” Ohm said. “The greatest asset that Nicholas brings to every competition is his confidence.”
Solter, who won the Class 3 District 1 championship and was second in the GAC Tournament this season, has been wrestling for most of his life.
“I wrestle on and off throughout the year,” Solter said. “I started wrestling when I was five.”
Washington finished the state tournament in seventh in the Class 3 team standings.
The Blue Jays had 11 qualifiers and four state medalists.
“It was a disappointing weekend for the team,” Solter said. “The good thing is we had a lot of us make it through districts and on to state, and that was exciting.”