Wrestling at Matoaca High School reached a pinnacle this past winter with a top 10 finish in the AAA state championships. Blake Roulo became the school’s first state champion at the AAA level, while teammate Josh Clark took home a silver medal. With only one senior in the program, things are definitely looking up for coach Mike Moore’s Warriors.
Looking deep into the future, Moore is thrilled by the prospects of coaching seventh grader Neal Richards for the next five years. Richards, who loves math and plays trumpet in the school band, has been wrestling in the Matoaca youth program since he was 4 years old.
“He is such a nice young man, but he is a beast on the mats,” said Moore.
Neal has been traveling around the country in recent months, and has won the Eastern Nationals in West Virginia, the Tulsa National in Oklahoma and the Reno World in Nevada. As a result, he is currently ranked No. 1 nationally in his weight class. Tipping the scales at about 110 pounds, Neal projects that he will begin his high school career at 119. Folk-style wrestling is similar to wrestling that’s contested at the high school level. Neal also practices Greco-Roman style wrestling, which focuses on the upper body.
The son of Neal and Patricia Richards, Neal has two younger brothers. Neal predominately wrestles, but has also played soccer and received some gymnastics training.
“I’m very thankful for the sacrifices my parents have made to allow me to compete at a national level,” he said. The family is also thankful for all the support given Neal and other young wrestlers by the Ettrick Neighbor and Business Association.
“I really love wrestling. It allows you to prove yourself on the mat. Coach Moore is a wonderful coach,” said Neal. “Wrestling has allowed me to make many friends and to travel to so many different places.”