It was a bittersweet kind of night at Versailles.
The Tigers wrestled their home finale in a quadrangular with Butler, Fatima and Tipton Thursday night hosting Senior Night and Matwarming festivities and the seniors came in knowing they were about to wrestle the final matches of their high school careers on their own mats.
“It is one of those things where you are happy, but at the same it is over and done,” said senior Michael Trotter who was privileged to win all three of his matches. “You never have this chance again so you have to make the most of it.”
Well, good thing his teammates had a similar kind of idea in mind as Versailles swept all three dual opponents topping Butler 60-24, Fatima 45-33 and Tipton 72-12. It also happened to be the first event of 2019 for the Tigers and while it was not perfect, it was a solid start to the new year after a lengthy break during the holidays.
“We did not look as good as we should have against Fatima. They gave Blair Oaks a real tough match so we knew it was going to be a little closer than we anticipated and we did not wrestle our best,” Versailles coach Shawn Brantley said. “You could tell this was our first time out since the break. The first dual we looked pretty good, there was not so good and we finished up pretty good so overall I am pretty happy. We got it done and are ready to move on.”
The night began with Butler where Sean Dusky got the night off to a good start for the Tigers after securing a pin in less than a minute in the 106-pound class. Brycen Reynolds (132), Connor Lehman (152) and Trotter (182) also picked up pins and Versailles was able to take advantage of six open weight classes as Levi Rand (113), Logan Rand (120), Payton LaFoy (126), Riley Rademann (195), Gage Tessier (220) and Joseph Shady (285) all won by forfeit.
Up next was Fatima and the Comets gave the Tigers some fits early, winning the first five matches of the evening in the lighter weight classes before Versailles made a response. Emmanuel Bryant was the Tiger to make that response winning a 12-7 decision in the 138-pound class in what was a 7-7 tie with just around 30 seconds remaining. Trotter (182) earned a pin in just under 40 seconds and Rademann (195) and Tessier (220) also picked up pins as well. Meanwhile, Lehman (152), Lucas Schrock (160), Caiden Koontz (170) and Shady (285) all went uncontested.
Neighboring Tipton was the final opponent of the night and Versailles quickly went to work winning the first four matches and eventually securing 11 pins in the dual. Jacob Schrock (120), LaFoy (126), Reynolds (132), Bryant (138), Lehman (152), Schrock (160), Trotter (182), Rademann (195), Tessier (220), Shady (285) and Kannen Wilson (113) were the Tigers who picked up those pins and Dusky (106) won by forfeit.
“It was a complete emotional rollercoaster being my last wins on these mats ever in my entire life,” Trotter remarked.
“Most of the time it is one of those things where you can go out there and wrestle, but now you have family coming to support you to win on these mats. You have to think about your friends and family there to watch you for the last time and you have to make the most of it not just for yourself, but for them.”
And looking back on his career as a whole beyond what took place Thursday night, there is plenty for Trotter to smile about as well.
“It was amazing. We’ve had good coaches, friends and teammates come through,” the senior said of his time with the program. “We’ve always done well as a team and it is just one of those things I’ll never forget.”
The same goes for Brantley who noted the impact the two-time state medalist has had.
“He is probably going to finish second, third or fourth in wins. He has been huge since we got the trophy (fourth place as a team at state in 2016) and a lot of what we have done has been built on Michael,” the coach noted of the wrestler who has earned fifth at state twice. “He has been able to keep that tradition going and hopefully these younger guys have been paying attention to what he did and see what it takes to be on that podium when they get to Columbia.”
It was also Senior Night for Shady and Clayton Coleman who was not in action on Thursday, but has made his presence known as well in four years with the Tigers.
“Clayton has been in and out of the lineup this year being dinged up. He was a state qualifier his freshman year and has a good shot of getting back there this year,” Brantley stated. “He has kept working hard and hopefully we can finish his career up and get him back to Columbia.”
Then there was Allison Taylor and Anna Knoerle who were part of the first female team in school history. Unfortunately, Knoerle suffered a season-ending injury at the Wonder Woman Tournament in Columbia.
“This being the first year of the program, that is great to have them out and start building that tradition for them the boys have going,” the coach pointed out.
Now that winter break has concluded and the first event of 2019 is in the books, Brantley said there is plenty to work on as the team looks to sharpen things up with districts not too far down the road.
“I was really hoping we had gotten some of the stuff cleaned up over Christmas and we were making some of the mistakes we had been all year in some spots,” the coach pointed out. “We have some stuff to work on to finish up the year strong and we’ll get it done.”
Versailles was unable to take on the Warsaw Invitational over the weekend, which featured numerous district opponents, due to inclement weather and will now get ready for a quadrangular at Whitfield on Friday with Washington and Belleville at 5:30 p.m.
“We’ll take our little tour of Missouri and go to St. Louis dueling the number one team in the state on Friday night at Whitfield and go to the St. Clair Tournament and see some of those tams we don’t usually see until state,” Brantley said. Then we’ll wrap up the regular season at Seneca and get a look at them and we’ll have a pretty good idea of where we stand after that.
“Some people thought I was crazy to take this dual with Whitfield, but you have to see where you are at. We like to think we are a pretty good team and we are going to find out that night for sure,” the coach added.