VERSAILLES – When the Ohio High School Athletic Association made the decision to hold a state team duals tournament five years ago, there was probably nobody more excited than Tiger coach A.J. Bey and his team.
And the results on the mat speaks volumes.
No one exemplifies “14 strong” any better than the Tigers – who easily advanced to their fifth straight regional final Wednesday night.
Versailles has advanced to the state tournament in two of the four years, advancing to the regional semifinals and regional finals in the other two years.
“When they made the decision to do this thing (state team duals) five years ago, it was something we have really focused on,” Coach Bey said. “The kids take a lot of pride in it.”
And the Tigers showed what makes them so successful Wednesday.
Versailles had a first-round bye before wrestling Bluffton – a 37-34 winner over Allen East.
The Tigers lost only two matches in rolling to a 58-12 victory.
Versailles will host the regional semifinals and finals next Wednesday.
In the semifinals, Versailles will wrestle Covington and Miami East will wrestle Indian Lake at 6 p.m.
“We hadn’t seen Bluffton,” Coach Bey said. “But they have some good wrestlers.”
But, the Tigers never gave them a chance to get untracked.
Kobe Epperly (106) opened with a pin in 2:55 and Trevor Huber (113) followed with a pin in 5:00.
After Jacob Poling (120) had a 10-1 major decision, Cael Bey (126) had a pin in 5:20 and Preston Platfoot (132) had a pin in 1:52.
Kyle Wuebker (138) received a forfeit and Nathan Wagner (145) recorded a 13-4 major decision to give Versailles a 38-0 lead before Bluffton could get on the board.
“That’s what we like to do,” Coach Bey said. “Our lower weights got us off to a great start heading into the middle weights, and we just kept rolling from there.”
Derek Cavin (160) added a pin in 30 seconds and Tyler Gigandet won a 2-0 decision before Isaac Gilmore (182), Gage DeHart (195) and Jeffrey Ware (285) all won by forfeit to close out the night.
Getting to host the regional semifinals and finals is an added plus.
“It is a little extra work,” Coach Bey said. “But, it sure beats having a long bus ride.”
And the Tigers aren’t satisfied yet.
“We went to state the first year (2014) and we went to state two years ago (2016) and we lost in the regional finals last year. So, I guess it is every other year,” Coach Bey said with a smile.
Which makes this their year – and there was nothing Wednesday night to make anyone think it won’t be.
Rob Kiser is sports editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at 937-451-3334.