She just wanted to wrestle.
But 2009 St. Clair High School graduate Randi Beltz became a trailblazer for girls wrestling.
Beltz finished her prep career as a two-time state medalist, the only female to earn a state medal in the MSHSAA Championships, and she did it twice.
Beltz was not the first female to make the state meet. That happened in 1998 when Julie Tucker of Pleasant Hill qualified in Class 1A-2A at 103 pounds.
Randi wasn’t the first female to win a state match. Lafayette’s Ashley Hudson did that in Class 4 at 103 pounds in 2005. She went 2-2 at the state meet and came one win short of reaching the medal matches.
Ashley Larson of Warsaw also qualified that year at 112 pounds in Class 1 for Warsaw, but didn’t win a match in Columbia.
Beltz and Hudson both qualified in 2004-05 with Hudson going 0-2 at the state level.
As a freshman, Beltz finished fifth in the Class 2 103-pound weight class. She won three of her five state matches and ended the season at 32-6.
“Randi is the first girl to medal,” St. Clair Head Coach Brian Robbins, now the school’s athletic director, said after that day. “I didn’t coach Randi so much as I just sat in a chair. It’s a tribute to Randi and her parents. She comes from a good wrestling family. It’s an honor to be around her. She’s turned some heads this weekend. People have been very complimentary of her. People have been surprised and impressed with how well she wrestled. She beat some very good kids. She finished fifth in state as a freshman. No matter if it’s a boy or a girl, that’s something to be proud of.”
At that time, it still was the cutting edge of having the girls wrestle at that level.
“Some opponents get ticked off,” Beltz said after that meet. “Some parents get ticked off. A couple of boys have cried.”
Growing up in Seneca, a big wrestling area, Beltz learned to wrestle with the boys and that paid off during her first year in high school.
To say it was unexpected would be a massive understatement.
When Randi went to the floor of Mizzou Arena to get her state medal, nobody thought she was going to get a medal.
Dressed up, most on the floor assumed her to be one of the helpers who passed out medals, brackets and did other tasks for the state officials.
And then she went to the podium where everyone quickly realized the situation.
“I didn’t realize how big this was until I stopped to look around when I got my medal and they took pictures,” said Beltz. “This is awesome.”
When she returned in 2007, it was as part of a three-girl contingent. Randi won the only two matches for a girl, competing at 119 pounds. She lost one match short of the medal rounds.
Erica Poe qualified at 119 pounds and Larson returned at 130 pounds for Warsaw, but neither won a match in the Class 1 tournament.
Beltz and her family had just returned from a stint in Chamberlain, S.D., when the 2007-08 state tournament took place and four girls qualified with Emily Webster (103) of Cameron, Poe (119) of Warsaw, Jayde King (119) of Diamond and Brittney Waldner (103) of Dexter advancing to Columbia.
Poe won twice and Webster had one win, but none reached the podium.
Beltz saved her best for her senior year. Going 46-2, she capped off a dominating season with a third-place Class 2 state finish.
In her final match for the Bulldogs, she pinned Benton’s Bryson Dixon in 14 seconds to win the third-place accolades.
She opened with a 1:28 pin of Winfield’s Zach Colvin and then posted a 17-5 major decision over Dixon.
Beltz nearly became the first female to reach a state title match. She took the eventual state champion, Kirksville’s Justin VanHoose, to the limit in a 2-0 loss.
After losing to VanHoose, she came back for an 8-0 major decision over Derek Bohnsack of St. Joseph Lafayette.
“Randi finished third and broke her own record of fifth place,” Mark Payne, St. Clair’s head coach at the time, said. “She also owns one of the fastest pins in a state tournament which is 0:14. Her semifinal match should have been a finals match. Her and the Kirksville wrestler were on a level all by themselves. They both pinned and majored everyone else at the tournament. I think in any other year or in most other states, Randi would be a state champion. I coached in Virginia last year and I don’t think any 112, 119, or 125 pounder could hang with her.”
After that, Randi moved onto Missouri Valley College and further wrestling adventures.
In college, she finished third in the WCNA Nationals for Missouri Valley.
Continuing in the sport, she finished third in the Junior Nationals and won in 2007. She won the 2009 USA Wrestling Junior Girls Folkstyle championship and was a Pan American Junior champion.
Beltz placed sixth in the U.S. Open and fifth in the U.S. World Team Trials in 2010. She placed second in the University Nationals.
In 2011, Beltz was second in the University Nationals and third in the U.S. Open.
Competing in 2012, she placed second in the Pan American Championships, third in the Dave Schultz Memorial International, third in the University Nationals and sixth in the U.S. Open.
Returning in 2015, Beltz was third in the U.S. Open and fifth in the U.S. World Team Trials.
In 2016, Beltz placed second at the Canada Cup, second in the Dave Schultz Memorial International, third in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, fourth in the U.S. Open and fifth in the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden.
In 2017, Beltz placed third in both the Dave Schultz Memorial International and the U.S. Open.
This past spring, Beltz wrestled in the World Team Trials Challenge and the Final X meet.
After Randi’s high school state medals, girls continued to qualify for the state meet, but none followed Beltz’s path to the medal stand.
That will change this season.
Multiple females will earn state titles this season. There will be 12 weight classes in the initial run of girls wrestling with 103, 110, 116, 121, 126, 131, 136, 143, 152, 167, 187 and 235 being utilized.
Missouri is the ninth state to add a girls division.