VERSAILLES – Versailles beat Covington and Miami East on Wednesday to qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association dual team state tournament.
Versailles beat Covington 47-21 in the Region 24 semifinal then beat Miami East 39-30 in the regional championship to advance to the state tournament for the third time in the past six years.
“It feels great,” Versailles coach A.J. Bey said of qualifying for state. “The kids wrestled well, and the coaches coached them up well. We went through about 100 scenarios of this match, and I’m not sure they were 100 percent, but it was pretty close. The assistant coaches kind of put some stuff out there, and we did what we had to do.”
The result of the regional championship match against Miami East came down the final bouts. Being so close, the Tigers needed all 14 of their competitors to earn the win, Coach Bey said.
“We needed every one of them,” he said. “We needed JV guys. We needed some of our good guys to bump up a weight class to wrestle one of their better kids. It was just a total team effort.”
Versailles trailed 3-0 early in the match against Miami East as Olivia Shore beat Kobe Epperly 6-1 in the 106 pound match.
The Tigers then went up 18-3 with three consecutive pins. Trevor Huber pinned Garrett Kowalak in 49 seconds in the 113 pound match, Jacob Poling pinned Kaleb Nickels in 4:54 in the 120 pound match, and Nick Monnier pinned Brad Wittenmyer in 1:09 in the 126 pound match.
Miami East regained the lead and went up 27-18 by winning the next five matches.
Graham Shore pinned Cael Bey in 54 seconds in the 132 pound match, Alex Isbrandt pinned Preston Platfoot in 3:39 in the 138 pound match, and Zane Strubler pinned Nathan Wagner in 54 seconds in the 145 pound match. Then Travis Ferguson beat Kyle Wuebker 14-8 in the 152 pound match, and Michael Miller beat Derek Cavin 5-3 in the 160 pound match.
Versailles pulled within 27-24 when Tyler Gigandet pinned Jarret Winner in 1:45 in the 170 pound match.
Miami East’s Matthew Welker beat Isaac Grilliot 5-2 in the 182 pound match, putting the Vikings up 30-24 and within striking distance of securing the regional championship.
Needing wins, Versailles got them in the final three matches.
Isaac Gilmore won the 195 pound match by forfeit to tie the score at 30-30.
Gage DeHart then beat Brenden Dalton 2-0 in the 220 pound match to put Versailles up 33-30 then the Tigers secured the team win when Jeffrey Ware won the 285 pound match by forfeit.
Even at the beginning of the season, Coach Bey said, he knew the Tigers had the potential to win the regional title. But they needed everyone to remain healthy and wrestle well, which they did on Wednesday.
“Just looking at them I thought we had everybody spread out, but we couldn’t get somebody hurt; we couldn’t be sick,” Coach Bey said. “We’re thin at some weight classes, but we just had to have everybody, and we did. We had a couple kids that were just coming off the flu, and they got their butts out there and wrestled and wrestled well and good enough to win.”
To reach the regional final, Versailles first had to wrestle Covington in the regional semifinal.
Versailles faced a 9-0 deficit early in the match against Covington as Kellan Anderson pinned Kobe Epperly in 3:26 in the 106 pound match then Cael Vanderhorst beat Trevor Huber 9-2 in the 113 pound match.
Versailles won the next five matches to take a 24-9 lead on Covington.
First Jacob Poling pinned Taylen Viney in 1:33 in the 120 pound match then Cael Bey beat Riley Richards 3-0 in the 126 pound match. Nick Monnier pinned David Robinson in 3:08 in the 132 pound match, Preston Platfoot beat Austin Flick 6-3 in the 138 pound match, and Kyle Wuebker pinned Deacon Shields in 50 seconds in the 145 pound match.
Covington reduced its deficit to 24-15 with Trentin Alexander defeating Nathan Wagner 5-0 in the 152 pound match and Keringten Martin beating Derek Cavin 7-2 in the 160 pound bout.
Versailles won the next three matches to pull ahead 41-15 and secure the match victory. Tyler Gigandet beat Hunter Clarkson in a 17-2 technical fall in the 170 pound match, Isaac Grilliot pinned Gavin McReynolds in 3:32 in the 182 pound match, and Gage DeHart pinned Joseph Franke in 1:39 in the 195 pound match.
Covington’s final win of the night came at the 220 pound match when Gage Kerrigan pinned Austin Nerderman in 3:46. Versailles’ Jeffrey Ware then pinned Bryce Keiser in 2:34 in the 285 pound match to finish off the regional semifinal and set up the championship match against Miami East, who beat Indian Lake 48-33 in the other regional semi.
Versailles now advances to the OHSAA state tournament, which will be held Feb. 11 at St. John Arena on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. Versailles is one of eight Division III teams that will contend for the state championship.
This will be Versailles’ third trip to the OHSAA dual team state tournament in the six-year history of the event. The Tigers reached the state semifinals in 2013 and the state quarterfinals in 2016.
For more information about the tournament, visit the OHSAA website at http://ohsaa.org.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.