Richland wrestlers pin hopes on continued success

As the largest two-year school in Dallas County, Richland College is the home to thousands of inspiring students. Many of Richland’s students are athletes such as Dustin Basham, George Haskins and Greg Weasah. These three gentlemen represent the Richland wrestling team that has been the focal point all season long.

Wrestling coach Bill Neal was excited that the program was back and quickly went to work. The goal was to give wrestlers who were a year or more out of high school the chance to wrestle and get a good, affordable education close to home. Basham, Haskins and Weasah got the best of both worlds in North Dallas.

Dustin Basham is the product of Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club where he was a two-time All-American in wrestling. Despite having dyslexia and a limited number of options after high school, Basham never gave up. He knew that making the transition from high school to college was going to be tough because of his grades. Now, happily settled at Richland, Dustin quickly adapted to college life where he can get one-on-one attention, not only with Coach Neal but with his professors as well.

This big boost of motivation and confidence has helped Basham become successful in wrestling and academics. In wrestling, Dustin improved from last season’s exhibition matches. This season he produced 20 wins was ranked ninth in the nation.

Before coming to Richland, George Haskins wrestled and played football as a linebacker at Lewisville High School. Prior to college, he went down the wrong road but as a young adult was given a second chance. Neal helped Haskins turn his life around by teaching him the fundamentals of folk style and Greco wrestling but more importantly the fundamentals of life outside the sport. Coach Neal encouraged Haskins to stay in school and use that as a tool to get through life. Although he fell short of All-American status he produced a well-done performance in the nationals.

Liberian native Greg Weasah had a huge weight on his shoulders. Despite facing troubles in his former home of Kansas City, Missouri, Weasah became successful at Dallas’ Lake Highlands High School in wrestling and track and field. This former Wildcat came to Richland as a Rising Star student as well as a member of the National Honor Society.

In addition to wrestling, Weasah is involved in several organizations at Richland including the Male Achievement Program (MAP), a higher education based student development association which seeks to increase the retention and college completion of male/minority students. Greg displayed a great deal of character because it’s not always about wins and losses. He loves it here at Richland and sees the family value in the wrestling team.

I asked these guys who were their favorite wrestler and they all said Jordan Burroughs. The three-time All-American and two-time undefeated national champion from the University of Nebraska won a total of eight gold medals and a bronze with the U.S. men’s freestyle wrestling team. He won the gold last year at the Pan American Championships in Frisco.

These three men along with the rest of the team owe it all to both Coach Neal and the staff at Richland. Once high school kids find out that Richland is a hotspot, that will attract more and more wrestlers. Everyone has a purpose in life and should never be taken lightly. 4-year schools have gotten more expensive and harder to get into. For the last three decades, wrestlers from the Metroplex had slim options after high school because there wasn’t a 2-year wrestling program in Texas. So, it’s great now that young men and women can come to Richland to fulfill their dreams.

This season was a wakeup call but next season, keep your eyes in the Thunderducks. We encourage the Richland community and all of the Metroplex to continue to support the wrestling team….The best is yet to come. A reminder to check out the Richland T-Ducks as they host NCWA National Greco Tournament at Guadalupe Hall on Saturday June 3rd at 9:00 am.

Time flies when you’re having fun and the 2016-17 season has been truly impressive. We witnessed together the return of the storied wrestling program after a three-decade hiatus. The men’s soccer team wins their sixth NJCAA National Championship. Both men’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams had amazing turnaround seasons. FC Dallas U-18 becomes the first Major League Soccer Academy team to win the Dallas Cup. The Texas Rangers finished the 2016 season with the American League’s best record and quickly ended in disgrace once again in Toronto. The Dallas Cowboys 13-3 season also ended in disgrace. We said goodbye to Tony Romo and said hello to Dak Prescott. Look out Emmitt, here come Ezekiel.

We saw the New England Patriots win the first-ever Super Bowl in overtime against Atlanta. Connecticut’s women’s basketball team set a new basketball record of 111-wins and their streak of four national championships snapped by Mississippi State at the American Airlines Center. Basketball Hall of famer Dawn Staley and her South Carolina Gamecocks win their first-ever women’s basketball national championship. We said thank you to David Ortiz, DeMarcus Ware and Paul Pierce on their amazing athletic careers. We paid tribute to Pat Summit, Arnold Palmer and Muhammad Ali. May their souls rest in peace.

And finally, this TRU GRIT sports page wins an award from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. On behalf of myself and Richland Student Media, thank you, Thunderducks!!! We look forward to next season but for now, that’s the sportsworld from yours truly. Have a safe and blessed Summer.