Neal Richards Finishes 2018-19 Season at NCAAs
Courtesy: SportsPhotoGuy.com for VMI
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Neal Richards Finishes 2018-19 Season at NCAAs

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – VMI red-shirt junior Neal Richards finished his outstanding 2018-19 season Thursday at the at the 2019 Division I Wrestling Championships at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Richards, wrestling at 174 pounds, was beaten twice Thursday to finish 28-6 for the year.

Brandon Womack, seeded #16 from Cornell University, defeated #17 Richards 11-10 in a tiebreaker in the opening round. Richards trailed 10-8 in the closing seconds of regulation, but scored a takedown with four seconds left to tie the score. Neither wrestler scored a point in the one-minute sudden victory period, and two-30 second sessions followed with the competitors alternating starting on the bottom. Richards began the first period on the mat, but couldn’t escape, while Womack escaped with 20 seconds on the clock and held on for the win. 

Richards, who had his nose bloodied early in the match, had a pair of takedowns in the first period. Womack scored a takedown and two escapes in the first three minutes as the period ended 4-4. Womack took a 7-4 advantage with an escape and a takedown in the second period. After two Richards’ takedowns and two Womack escapes in the third period, Richards trailed just 9-8 in the final minute. A crucial second stalling warning was given to Richards with 26 seconds left, awarding Womack a point, so Richards’ last second takedown resulted in overtime, not a one-point victory.

Devin Kane from the University of North Carolina faced Richards in the first round of wrestlebacks, with the loser of the match eliminated. The two were tied at 2-2 midway through the second period, but Kane controlled the bout the rest of the way for an 8-2 victory.

Richards entered NCAA post-season competition on a 21-match win streak with 10 pins, six technical falls and six major decisions. He is a five-time Southern Conference Wrestler of the Week, a two-time Wrestler of the Month, and the conference’s regular-season Wrestler of the Year and tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.