Spencer Baird definitely earned everything he accomplished during the wrestling season and at the MSHSAA Championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
A three-year state qualifier, the third time proved to be the charm for Baird, who won his first career all-state medal.
Competing at 152 pounds in Class 3, Baird captured third-place honors with a 4-1 state tournament record.
“I’m happy to get third place. I never gave up. I finally got to medal,” Baird said. “It’s what I’ve worked for all 13 years I’ve wrestled.”
Baird (48-8) capped his Washington career with an 8-6 victory over Neosho’s Sam Williams in a hard-fought third-place match.
“I’ve haven’t wrestled him before,” Baird said. “It takes a lot of heart to finish matches like that. You know it’s the last match of the year. You’re just dead from all of the other matches. You just have to push through it.”
Baird, a senior, opened the state tournament with a 9-0 majority decision over Kearney’s Jaxton Bingham.
In the quarterfinals, Baird pinned Carl Junction’s Nick Koon in 3:39.
Baird faced his biggest test in the state semifinals, where he lost a 7-2 decision to eventual state champion Zadac Lankford of Warrensburg, who finished with a perfect season at 54-0.
“Lankford is a pretty tough kid. He’s ranked first and was picked to win,” Baird said. “I believe I could have been in the finals against him, but I ended up on the wrong side of the bracket. He’s a tough kid.”
Despite the semifinal loss, Baird was determined to bounce back and end his senior season in style, which is what he did.
In the wrestlebacks, Baird won a 5-2 decision over Ladue’s Chase Ridenour to reach the third-place match.
“Spencer had a tough draw to have the eventual undefeated state champ in his half of the bracket,” Ohm said. “Other than him, Spencer was on an another level compared to anyone in the bracket. It was a great way to end his high school career.”
Baird scored 17 team points for the Blue Jays, who finished the state meet in fourth place with 79.5 points, just two places away from a state trophy.
“I wish I would have done better, but it is what it is,” he said. “I’m really happy for how good we did as a team in my senior year. It made my senior year a lot better.”
Baird leaves the Washington wrestling program with plenty of success on his resume.
“I am extremely proud and honored to have been able to be a part of his life for the past four years,” Ohm said. “I wish him the best in the future.”
Baird is leaving his options open for next year.
“For now, I’m going to work on school and try to get good grades,” he said. “If I get offers for college, I might go to college and wrestle.”